Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


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

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: Formula for dis. between two points on the Globe
    From: Jan van Puffelen
    Date: 1996 Oct 21, 18:08 EDT

    Vincent (a dutch name?):
    At 11:33 20-10-96 -0400, you wrote:
    >Is there somebody that has the Formula to calculate the distance
    >between two points on the globe.
    >eg. 52 29.66N  and 52 32.86N
    >    005 02.45E     004 40.67E
    A very Dutch position!
    >My GPS tells me that it is 13.6nm        CTS106
    Yes there are:
    1. The straight line course (sailing a constant course from source to
    destination) als called "loxodrome"
    2. The shortest distance between two points (but this requires a constantly
    changing course and can lead to unacceptably high latitudes).
    3. The composite track (a good compromise between the two).
    I give the loxodrome course in the form of a small BASIC program, as
    developed for the CASIO FX7602P, a handheld computer with a small LCD
    screen. This  machine could store up to 10 BASIC programs and has served me
    well over the years:
            LOXODROME	218
    1	INP "SR",R,"SS",S,"V",V,"HH",U	
            SET F1	
    2	PRC 1,D-B	Normalize difference in longitude
            RPC X,Y	
            Z=180/pi*LN ((TAN C+1/COS C)/(TAN A+1/COS A))	Calculate integral of
    difference in longitude on the spheroid; an ellipsoid is a bit overdone
    3	RPC Z,Y	
            PRT "VH=";X/Z*(C-A)*60	distance
            K=Y-ASN (S/V*SIN (R-Y))	corrected for current
    4	PRC V,K	course vector
            Z=8*U/V/V	leeway angle
            K=K-Z	correct for leeway
            PRC S,R	current vector
            K=Y-360*INT (K/360)	normalise course
    5	RPC X+I,Y+J	vector addition
            PRT "BV=";X	resulting speed including current
            SET F0	
            PRT "DR=";Z,"WK=";K	leeway and course
    Distance and course are calculated between any two points on earth with
    coordinated (Lat, Long) in (A,B) and (B,C) following a straight line on the
    map (Mercator Projection) i.e. with a constant course (Loxodrome). The
    course is corrected for a given current vector and a calculated leeway
    angle. Leeway is calculated from the angle of heel and the speed.
    The CASIO has standard 26 predefined variables A-Z which are used as
    follows: The first column contains the variable, the second column the
    external name and the 3rd column an explanation
    Var	Disp	Contains
    A		Latitude point of departure
    B       	Longitude point of departure
    C		Latitude destination
    D		Longitude of destination
    K		Course
    R	SR	Direction of current
    S	SS	Speed of current
    V	V	Speed of the ship
    U	HH	Angle of heel +/-
    Z		Leeway angle
    When the program is started the following information is started/displayed:
    Display/Accept	Description
    SR	        Current direction
    SS	        Current speed
    V	        Speed of ship relative to water
    HH	        Angle of heel (negative to larboard, positive to starboard)
    VH= m.m	        Distance in NM
    BV= k.k	        Speed relative to the ground
    DR= g	        Leeway
    WK=	        True course to steer (to be corrected for variation and
    deviation on a magnetic compass)
    N.B. the leeway angle  is approximated with a formula from Sparkman & Stephens.
    Most BASIC instructions are self explanatory but the following:
    Function        Description
                    N.B. all trig functions work by default in degrees
    SET F1	        Set display to 1 decimal position
    PRC (a),(b)	Translates the Polar coordinates with length (a) and direction
    (b) into                          Rectangular Coordinates, stored in X and Y.
                    The given expression is equivalent to:
    RPC (a),(b)	Translates the Rectangular coordinates (a) and (b) into Polar
    Coordinates, stored                 in X (length) and Y(direction).
                    The given expression is equivalent to:
                    X=SQRT((a)^2+(b)^2)   [plain old Pythagoras]
    DMS a 	        display a in format dd.mmss, i.e. DMS 3.5 displays 3? 30' 00.00"
    pi              the famous constant, 3.14159265358979 etc.
    The other program is slightly more complex. It calculates not only the
    distance and course according to the loxodrome, but also distance and
    initial heading (since the course changes all the time) of a great circle
    course, The coordinates of the vertex (the highest latitude reached, this is
    the reason why transatlantic flights fly over the north pole) and many more
            Courses	628
    1	PRC 1,D-B	Normalize difference in longitude
            RPC X,Y	
            K=Y	           Remember sign of difference in longitude
            Z=180/pi*LN ((TAN C+1/COS C)/(TAN A+1/COS A))	meridional parts on sphere
    2	RPC Z,Y	
            X=X/Z*(C-A)	distance
            PRT "LX";	print "LX" to indentify loxodrome
            GSB 100	       print distance and course
    3	X=ACS (COS (D-B)*COS C*COS A+SIN A*SIN C)	Great Circle distance
            Y=ACS ((SIN C-SIN A*COS X)/COS A/SIN X	Initial heading
            IF SIN (D-B)<0;	normalize initial heading
    5	PRT "GC";	print GC to identify Great Circle
            GSB 100	       print distance and course
            Z=ATN (1/(TAN Y*SIN A))	difference in longitude with vertex
            I=ATN (TAN A/COS Z)	latitude of vertex
    6	PRC 1,B+Z	normalize longitude vertex
            RPC X,Y	
            PRT "VTX: LAT=";	print to identify vertex
            DMS I	print latitude vertex
            PRT "LON=";	
            DMS J	print longitude vertex
    7	INP "GC CALC: LATX",R	input latitude X
            IF ABS R>=ABS I;	if this is greater than the latitude of the vertex
              PRT "NO LONX"	there are no points on the great circle
              GOTO 10	skip remainder of calculation
    8	S=ACS (TAN R/TAN I)	difference in longitude with vertex
            PRC 1,J-S	normalize western point on GC
            RPC X,Y	
            PRT "LONX1=";	print first longitude X
            DMS Y	
    9	PRC 1,J+S	normalize eastern point on GC
            RPC X,Y	
            PRT "LONX2=";	print second longitude X
            DMS Y	
    10	INP "LONY",U	input longitude Y
            T=ATN (COS (J-U)*TAN I)	compute latitude Y
            PRT "LATY=";	print latitude Y
            DMS T	
            SET F0	set display to 0 decimals
    11	M=ACS (SIN (J-U)*SIN I)	course in point LatY, LonY
            N=ASN (SIN M*SIN (R-T))	minimum distance from point LatX, LonY to Great Circle
            IF K<0;	direction along Great Circle
              M=M+180	course is opposite
    12	O=ATN (1/(COS (R-T)*TAN M))	bearing from point LatX, LonY to nearest
    point on Great Circle
            IF N>0	N of the Great Circle
              O=180-O	bearing is complement
              GOTO 14	
    13	O=-O	S of the Great Circle
            IF O<0;	normalize bearing
    14	PRT "COURSE(YY)=";M,"BEARING(XY)=";O	print course in YY and bearing in XY
            SET F1	set display to 1 decimal
            PRT "MIN(XY)=";N*60,"LATM=";	print minimum distance in NM and coordinates
    of this point of the great circle
    15	PRC ABS N,O	sail this distance in the direction of the bearing
            DMS R+X	print the latitude of LatM
            PRC 1,U+Y/COS (R+X/2)	normalize the longitude of LonM
            RPC X,Y	
            PRT "LONM=";	print LonM
            DMS Y	
            GOTO 7	return for more calculations
    100	IF Y<0;	subroutine to normalize a given course
    101	SET F1	set the display to one decimal
            PRT ": DIST=";X*60;" COURSE=";###;Y	print the distance in NM and Course
    This program calculates a loxodrome course, a great circle course and
    several things around great circle courses Between the point of departure
    (latitude in A, longitude in B) and the destination (latitude in C,
    longitude in D), course and distance according to the loxodrome, distance
    and initial heading of the Great Circle and the Latitude and Longitude of
    the Vertex (point with the highest latitude on this great circle) are
    With a given LatX the corresponding LonX1 and LonX2 are calculated (for a
    given latitude there are either 2, 1 or no points on the great circle).
    With the given LonY the corresponding LatY is calculated as well as the
    course of the ship in point LatY, LonY.
    >From a point with given LatX, LonY, the minimum distance to the great circle
    is calculated as well as the (radio/radar/visual) bearing to the ship. The
    coordinates LatM, LonM of the point on the great circle with minimum
    distance to the given point LatX, LonY are calculated as well.
    Variable	Display	Contains
    A		Latitude point of departure (N/S=+/-)
    B		Longitude point of departure (E/W=+/-)
    C		Latitude destination (N/S=+/-)
    D		Longitude destination (E/W=+/-)
    I		Latitude vertex (N/S=+/-)
    J		Longitude vertex (E/W=+/-)
    K		Difference in Longitude (E/W=+/-)
    M		Course in LatY, LonY
    N		Minimum distance from LatX, LonY to great circle
    O		Bearing from LatX, LonY to point with minimum distance on great circle
    R		LatX (N/S=+/-)
    S		Diff Longitude LonX (E/W=+/-)
    T		LatY (N/S=+/-)
    U		LonY (E/W=+/-)
    The conversation goes as follows:
    Display/Accept	                Description
    LX: DIST= m.m COURSE= g 	Distance and Course loxodrome
    GC: DIST= m.m COURSE= g	        Distance and init. Course great circle
    VTX: LAT= gg mm ss.s	        Latitude Vertex (N/S=+/-)
    LON= gg mm ss.s	                Longitude Vertex (E/W=+/-)
    Is repeated:	
    GC CALC: LATX	                Input LatX (N/S=+/-)
    NO LONX	                        Latitude is too high
    LONX1= gg mm ss.s	        Longitude of first point on great circle
    LONX2= gg mm ss.s	        Longitude of 2nd point on great circle
    LONY	                        Input LonY (E/W=+/-)
    LATY=	                        Display corresponding LatY
    COURSE(YY)= g	                Course in point LatY, LonY
    BEARING(XY)= g	                Bearing from LatX, LonY to point on GC with
    min dist.
    MIN(XY)= m.m	                Minimal distance great circle to point LatX, LonY
    LATM= gg mm ss.s	        Latitude point on GC with min dist to LatX, LonY
    LONM= gg mm ss.s	        Longitude point on GC with min dist to LatX, LonY
    San Francisco (37? 25'N, 122? 30'W) to Yokohama (35? 30'N, 139? 40'E)
    Loxodrome 	4722.1 NM, course 	        269?	
    Great Circle 	4479.0 NM, initial course 	303?	
    Vertex 		48? 22'5N, 	
                   169? 40.2'W
    For LatX, LonY we enter the coordinates of Dutch Harbour (53? N, 166? W).
    This gives the following results:
    ? There are no points with the given latitude LatX=53? N on the great circle
    (53? has a higher latitude than the vertex), normally there are two points
    on the great circle LonX1 and LonX2.
    ? For the given longitude LonY=166? W the latitude LatY=48? 19'N
    ? The course in point LatY, LonY is 273?
    ? The bearing from Dutch Harbour to the nearest point on the great circle is
    ? The minimum distance the ship on the great circle passes Dutch Harbour is
    280.7 NM
    ? The point of minimum distance on the great circle to Dutch Harbour is
    LatM=48? 19.6'N, LonM=166? 21.3'W.
    N.B. Both programs work accurate to any distance as the loxodrome is
    calculated based on the meridional parts formula (Dutch: Vergrotende Breedte).
    According to this last program, the loxodrome distance between your given
    two points is 13,6 NM and a course of 284 true. According to the great
    circle, the distance is the same (the distance is very short) and the
    initial heading is 284 too.
    N.B. If you are interested I can send the Composite track program as well.
    Such tracks are used for long courses between relatively high northern or
    southern latitudes , for instance from cape town to melbourne, from which
    the great circle would lead to unacceptable high latitudes (through the
    polar region).
    You are welcome,
    Jan van Puffelen <puffelej@XXX.XXX>
    52d 24.5N
     4d 55.0E
    >*** Jippie Kajee KaJoo ***

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site