Circle of latitude
From Academic Kids
A circle of latitude is an imaginary east-west circle on the Earth, that connects all locations with a given latitude. It is perpendicular to all meridians. The position on the circle of latitude is given by the longitude.
The five major circles of latitude are:
- the Arctic Circle (66° 33' 38" N)
- the Tropic of Cancer (23° 26' 22" N)
- the Equator (0° N)
- the Tropic of Capricorn 23° 26' 22" S)
- the Antarctic Circle (66° 33' 38" S)
The Arctic Circle and Antarctic circle represent the southernmost and northernmost locations where it is possible to have a day without a sunrise.
The circles of latitude are loxodromes, but, apart from the equator, they are not great circles, hence not the shortest distance between points, as opposed to what is suggested by maps that show them as straight lines. It is for this reason that an aeroplane travelling between a European and North American city on the same latitude will fly further north, over Greenland for example. Thus they are not really "lines" in the geometry of the sphere. See also great circle distance.
For a low latitude a circle of latitude can be said to be a line around the Earth, while at a high latitude it is a circle around a pole.
Circles of latitude are often used as boundaries between countries or regions. Notable parallels include:
- 49th parallel north: part of the border between the United States and Canada.
- 45th parallel north: the border between Vermont and Canada.
- 42nd parallel north: the border between California and Oregon.
- 41st parallel north: parts of the borders of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
- 38th parallel north: boundary between the Soviet and American occupation zones in Korea in 1945.
- 60th parallel south: area south of which is considered Antarctica for the purposes of the Antarctic Treaty System (see map (http://sd-www.jhuapl.edu/FlareGenesis/Antarctica/1999/pictures/antarctica_pol_map.jpg))da:Breddekreds