What Is the Highest Number of Degrees Latitude?

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The highest number of degrees latitude is 90 degrees north or 90 degrees south, represented by the north and south poles. Learn how to circles of latitude get smaller the farther north or south of the equator with information from a math and science teacher in this free video on lines of latitude.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you what the highest degree of latitude is. First of all what is latitude? And what is longitude 'cause that's the other word which is used by navigators. So latitude are the lines which go around the earth and at the top of the earth we talk about the north pole... and these are the lines that go in circles around the north pole. They are not great circle lines. The only great circle line is zero north, also zero south. That is a great circle. That means it's the biggest circle you can draw. These circles get smaller so the lines of latitude get smaller the further north you go. And of course the further south you go. The lines of longitude are always great circles. That is they always find the largest circles through the north and south poles geographically, not magnetic poles. Now, obviously we start at zero degrees north and in fact the north pole is ninety degrees north and that is the north pole. It is not a circle, it is a point. In fact it is the only point on earth... it has some very strange properties. For example, look, if I walk south five kilometers and then walk around... that is walk east five kilometers and then walk north five kilometers. I end up back where I started. It sounds strange. Walk south, walk east, walk north, and I end up back where I am. But that is the peculiar thing about ninety degrees north, which is the highest degree of. Longitude of course is different because longitude is related to how far around the earth we are on great circles and of course zero degrees east or west goes through Greenwich. And Greenwich is where the original lines of longitude where measured from. Greenwich in London. So here we have an explanation. The lines of longitude are determined by time. The lines of latitude go from zero and the maximum number is ninety.

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