Navigation/Coordinate systems lesson


Jump to: navigation, search

This page is based on the Lesson plan template.

Use that template to make similar pages.


[edit] Subject

What is this lesson plan about?

This lesson plan reviews and touches on the coordinates systems that may be used in our area:

  • UTM
  • Geographic Coordinates (Lat/Long)
  • Legal Land Description

[edit] Authors

List who wrote this lesson plan.

Brett Wuth

[edit] Scope

What is included in this lesson, what's not and why.

[edit] Prerequisites

What should students already know/have accomplished before the lesson is presented.

[edit] Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson the participants:

  1. will be able to ...

[edit] Time Plan

Total Time: 120 minutes

Time Material


3 min

Introduce topic title

Introduce Instructor

Present Objectives


Distribute maps, pencils, erasers

  • safe pencils to use on maps
  • safe eraser to use on maps

coordinates systems

A coordinate system is a way of specifying a location on map

3 systems you're likely to use in SAR.

  • UTM - Universal Transverse Mercator
  • Geographic Coordinate System - Latitude/Longitute
  • Legal Land Description - Section, Township. Roads and Approaches


  • SAR uses mostly
  • taught in SAR fundamentals
  • 3 parts: ZEN
    • Zone
    • Easting
    • Northing


  • Each zone is a grid system that stretches from near the antarctic to the far north
  • different strips necessary because laying a square grid on a round world
  • Each zone is 6 degrees wide
  • Pincher Creek is right at the boundary between zone 11U (on west) and zone 12U (on east)
  • Each map shows it's zone


  • how far north of the equator (in meters)
  • written on left and right edge of map
  • horizontal blue lines have same northing
  • every 1000m
  • only 2 of the digits are shown for most blue lines


  • relative to the center of the Zone
  • center of Zone is 500,000m
  • bigger number the further east you go
  • smaller number as you fo west
  • written on the bottom and top edge of the map
  • vertical blue lines have same easting
  • sometimes starts over from 99 to 00 (with carry)

Stating a UTM

  • order: Z - E - N
  • e.g. 12U 710000mE 5477000mN
  • find this location: middle of Beauvais Lake

Being more precise

  • estimate inside blue square
  • using roamer

Short form UTM

  • used mainly over radio
  • 6 digits (3 easting, 3 northing, no zone)
  • assumes they know which map you're using
  • accurate to 100m

Geographic Coordinate System

  • Latitude and Longitude
  • used by aircraft
  • Better when dealing with 100's of kilometers
  • used by untrained people (all they've heard of)


  • A circle has 360 degrees.
  • World is a sphere. Equator is a circle.
  • measure longitude West 180 degrees along the equator from the prime meridian (Greenwich England)
  • measure East 180 degrees
  • meet at about the International Date Line in the Pacific
  • Measure north or south along the longitude to get the latitude
  • 90 degrees Latitude North to the north pole
  • 90 degrees South to the south pole


  • Degrees are too big
  • Every degree of latitude is 60 nautical miles
    • = 69 miles
    • = 111 km
  • On the equator a degree of longitude is also 60 nautical miles
  • gets smaller the closer to the poles you get
  • Degrees are divided into 60 minutes
  • written as '
  • 1' of latitude is 1 nautical mile
    • = 1.15 miles
    • = 1.9 km
  • 1' of longitude varies depending on how close to the poles


Getting even more accurate.

  • 60 seconds in a minute
  • written as "
  • 1" of latitude is 101 feet
  • = 31m

Full Lat/Long

  • example: 49deg 23' 24" N, 114deg 20' 25" W

Reading on a map

  • latitude goes from bottom to top along edges of map
  • each minute is marked by a black or white bar
  • seconds have to be estimated
  • longitude goes from right to left along top and bottom edge of map
  • size of minute is different
  • no lines join opposite sides of map
  • gray lines (township and section) are sometimes close
  • roll edge of map to create temporary straight line
  • read degrees and minutes, estimate seconds


find lat/long of several features

Convert by GPS

  • create waypoint in one coordinate sytem
  • display in another
  • need to match Map Datum used on map

[edit] Aids

What materials are needed or useful in presenting this lesson.

[edit] Question bank

List of questions suitable for an review/exam of this section.

See Question bank

[edit] Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the questions that students typically ask. Include the answers.

[edit] Feedback

When has this lesson been presented. What was the feedback.

[edit] License

What can others do with this lesson?

Copyright © 2013, Brett Wuth.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

[edit] Reference Material

If you need to cite sources, do so here.


[edit] Notes

Any additional notes, etc.

Personal tools