Maths - Spherical Polar Coordinates

Spherical coordinates allow points to be specified using one linear distances and two angles:

This can be used to represent points on the surface of a sphere such as the earth as explained on this page.

Cartesian to Spherical Polar Coordinates

sqrt(x2 + y2+ z2)

Spherical Polar Coordinates to Cartesian

We can assign an arbitrary x,y,z coordinate system in the local frame of the earth:


so from this diagram we can see that:

z = r sin(latitude)

and if we are on the Greenwich meridian then:

x = r cos(latitude)

but if we are not on the Greenwich meridian then this has to be modified depending on the latitude, so,

x = r cos(latitude) cos (longitude)

the y can be calculated from:

r2 = x2 + y2 + z2

therefore y = r *sqrt(1 - sin(latitude) - cos(latitude) cos (longitude))

r cos(latitude)
r *sqrt(1 - sin(latitude) - cos(latitude) cos (longitude))
r sin(latitude)

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