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How do I convert state plane coordinates to latitude and longitude?

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Quick Answer

Online applications to convert state plane coordinates to latitude and longitude are available on a number of websites. The Montana State Library Natural Resource Information System has an online form that processes inputs of state plane coordinates into latitude and longitude for the Montana Zone. A similar application can be found at Earthpoint.us, but it is applicable to all zones in the United States.

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Full Answer

Just like any other set of coordinates, state plane coordinates determine an exact location, particularly within the regions in the United States. These coordinates form part of the state plane coordinate system, which is composed of 124 geographical locations spanning across predetermined areas in the U.S. The numbers are similar to Cartesian coordinates in defining a specific point in a field.

State plane coordinates are composed of two numbers. The first coordinate is called northing, which defines a vertical distance from an origin. The second is easting, which describes a horizontal position in reference to the said origin. While these may seem like absolute positions recognized globally, each set of state plane coordinates is governed and limited by the region or zone in which it is being used. Aside from defining the values of northing and easting, the zone number must also be specified.

The state plane coordinate system was formulated through the efforts of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Coast and Geodetic Survey in the 1930s. The figures are currently being used by the state mainly for geographical data.

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