Lat/long and grid references

To: birding-aus posts <>
Subject: Lat/long and grid references
From: David McDonald <>
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 18:07:51 +1000
With the advent of the Birds Australia Alas, GPS receivers have become
as important a piece of birding equipment as binoculars and field
guides. Well, almost, anyway. Probably I am not the only person who
finds it a pain to identify accurately my latitude and longitude from
the AUSLIG 1:100,000 maps, the type I usually use, when I do not have my
GPS receiver with me. Having used grid references on these maps (and the
1:63,360s before them) for most of my life I find the switch to lat/long
a bit of a pain. (Yes, I have and sometimes use the Excel spreadsheet
provided by AUSLIG for for converting between grid refs and lat/long,
but it is all a bit tedious.)

One thing intrugues me. With grid references we conventionally cite the
easting followed by the northing. There is no choice in the matter. But
with latitude/longitude we conventionally do it the other way round: nn
degrees/minutes/second South (latitude) followed by nn
degrees/minutes/seconds East (longitude). The GPS receivers' readouts
also deal with them this way.

Does anyone know how we came to have these differing sequences?

David McDonald

David McDonald
PO Box 1355, Woden ACT 2606, Australia
Tel: +61 2 6231 8904 (h); +61 2 6249 5618 (w)
Fax: +61 2 6249 0740

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