Bill S: UTM easting-northing??

4:37 p.m. on November 6, 2002 (EST)

Hi Bill,
When expressing a UTM coordinate as a single number, e.g. in 6 or 8 digits, the
NASAR text books list them in the order of "northing/easting". The military use the order "easting/northing" (i.e. reading "right-up").

Is there a standard order in expressing the false easting and northing coordinates as a single number?

Thanks in advance. Cheers, LesM ;-)

1:46 p.m. on November 7, 2002 (EST)
4,419 reviewer rep
6,010 forum posts
easting-northing is standard

The standard order for UTM, MGRS, and other mercator-like coordinates is Easting, then Northing. This is different from the usual way to list geographic and geodetic coordinates, which is latitude, then longitude (that is, the north-south direction, followed by the east-west direction). The reason for the UTM standard is that it derives from the usual way of giving coordinates on a graph for mathematicians (think of your beginning algebra class), namely x-y (blame it on Descartes, who popularized cartesian coordinates). The Range and Township designation (used for assigning homestead locations in the 19th century in the US) is the same - range is east-west, township is north-south.

The geographic convention came about because people could measure latitude much earlier (thousands of years, in fact) than they could measure longitude. The book "Longitude" (pronounced long-itude), and the PBS show of the same name tell the story of this quite nicely.

1:39 p.m. on November 8, 2002 (EST)
28 reviewer rep
1,261 forum posts
"Longitude" was a great show!

Imagine devoting your entire life to developing that clock.

Being a Mechanical Designer, I have taken too many math classes that involve cartesian coordinates. I find using a UTM grid over a topo map is second nature to me. Just place the grid at the origin, determine your "slope" and boom! there you are. Great fun. has everything one needs to create the overlays for various scales.

June 25, 2018
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