Where Lines Meet
Henry David Thoreau said, “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” Having friends and family in far flung places may broaden your global perspective. Though Thoreau was speaking relatively about location, latitudes and longitudes provide a measurement of absolute location. But do you know where you are?
If you don’t know, you might be enlightened by The Degree Confluence project, which seeks to explore points of latitude and longitude around the globe. According to the project’s web page, a degree confluence is the exact point where an integer degree of latitude and an integer degree of longitude intersect.
The goal of the Degree Confluence Project is to visit primary confluences around the world and to photograph each location facing all directions. Explorers’ firsthand narratives accompany photos of the confluence points. One criteria of a primary confluence, as defined on the website, is that the point exists on land, or if it exists in a body of water or on ice, it is within sight of land so that distinguishable features can be recognized on a clear day.
Webmaster Alex Jarrett started the project in February 1996 because he liked the idea of visiting a place represented by a round number like 43°00’00″N 72°00’00″W. This was the project’s first visited confluence point and it happens to be a spot 2.0 miles (3.2 km) NNW of Hancock, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, USA. (You can see pictures taken during different seasons on eight separate dates and corresponding narratives at this location here.)
They Went Where?
The main page lists the most recently visited confluence points. You can see separate maps pinpointing all confluence points as well as confluence points that have been visited thus far and documented here.
Photos of the first visit in Greenland Østgrønland/Tunu (73 Degrees N, 39 degrees W) shows nothing but snow and blue sky, except that one of them includes a shot of a Barbie doll holding the explorers’ GPS device.
You’ll find some pretty dense rainforest for the only point visited thus far in Vanuatu.
There are photos posted at the 90 Degrees N, North Pole in International Waters, Arctic Ocean, too. And yes, of course Santa makes a guest appearance!
According to the Degree Confluence website:
- There are over 64,400 latitude and longitude degree intersections in the world (including each pole).
- After eliminating many confluences near the poles and in the oceans, more than 16,300 of them meet the goals of the project.
- More than 14,000 confluences fall on land.
- There is a confluence within 49 miles (79 km) of you.
As of this writing:
- There are still over 10,000 confluence points to be visited.
- There have been over 5,900 successful primary confluences completed.
- More than 88,400 photographs in 183 countries have been posted.
- More than 30 countries have all their confluence points completed.
- There have been more than 900 confluence points documented in the USA,
more than 530 in Russia, more than 480 in Australia and more than 420 in Canada.
How to Visit a Confluence
Explorers will need a GPS receiver, a detailed map, a compass, and a camera for confluence point hunting. The How To Visit A Confluence web page will tell you everything else you need to know about selecting and noting your pending confluence visit. If you decide to visit a confluence point, check out the confluence hunting checklist. You will find guidelines for writing narratives and taking photos of the point as well as requirements for finding the point with your GPS device as accurately as possible.
Earth in 3D
The two-dimensional lines of latitude and longitude may be flat and imaginary, but the confluence explorers’ photos and anecdotes bring these intersections to life. Our planet is indeed vibrantly real and multi-dimensional.
1. ThinkExist.com: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/henry_david_thoreau/
2. The Degree Confluence Project: http://www.confluence.org/
3. World Atlas: http://worldatlas.com/aatlas/imageg.htm