# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

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Re: FW: Re: Chronometer Suggestions
From: Lu Abel
Date: 2009 Jan 15, 10:55 -0800
Curiosity question:

It's well known that the diameter of the earth across the equator is about 1/300th greater than the diameter across the poles.

I would intuitively expect, therefore, that the size of a minute of latitude to change by a like amount.  But looking at this graph, there seems to be a 1/60 difference in the size of a minute at the poles vs at the equator.  Is there an explanation that this technically competent, but ignorant of the math of the oblate spheroid, person could understand?

Also, I assume this graph is for geodetic latitude and not geocentric or parametric latitude?
(For people curious about these terms, geodetic latitude is what you get by drawing a line perpendicular to the surface of the earth down to its axis.  Due to the flattening of the earth, this line will intersect the earth's axis on the other side of the equator from the observer's position.  The other two latitudes are what you get when you draw a line out from the earth's center. This line is not perpendicular to the earth's surface except that the poles and equator)

Lu Abel

Nicolàs de Hilster wrote:
```On NavList 7052 Irv Haworth wrote:
```
```"I think it's well known that 1' of arc varies in length as a function
(cos)
of the latitude."

```
```On which Gary LaPook replied in NavList 7053:
```
```That is true for one minute of longitude because parallels of latitude are small circles.
This is not true for one minute latitude of for any
other great circle. (Technically these also vary slightly due to the
oblateness of the earth but these small variations are ignored for

```
```For those who want to know how much exactly that variation is I posted
attached graph of it in NavList 4750 on 24/03/2008.

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```

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