Find a location on Google maps using coordinates: Typically people use Google maps by entering addresses. You can also enter coordinates. If you were trying to geocache without a GPS, for example, you could enter the coordinates given — and thereby locate the hide on a map before you even leave home. This works well in an urban setting with many landmarks — not so well out in the wild unless you’re very good at orienteering — in which case you should print both the satellite and the terrain views.
Let’s demo an example: GC1Y8D0 is one of my caches called “An American Hero” where the coordinates are given as N 40° 53.040 W 073° 25.158. Copy-paste that into maps.google.com and you’ll immediate know where to look for the cache. Not as much fun as approaching the hide with a GPS; certainly more efficient!
Getting the coordinates to a particular location: Enter an address into maps.google.com and using the grabbing hand pan your location to dead centre of the map’s rectangle.
A dialogue box will pop up with your location’s coordinates which you can copy paste from — to wherever you need it: (40.75610790270799, -73.98998022079468) in my example. That’s N 40.75610790270799, because 40 is a positive number, therefore North of the Equator at 0 degrees latitude, and W 73.98998022079468, because 73 is a negative number, West of Greenwich at 0 degrees longitude. Just remember that a negative longitude is West and a negative latitude is South.
If you paste (40.75610790270799, -73.98998022079468), parenthesis and all, back into maps.google.com the green arrow will pinpoint that location precisely.
You can convert from decimal degrees to degrees in minutes and seconds using a coordinate converter/calculator such as www.earthpoint.us. Using our example coordinates of 40.75610790270799, -73.98998022079468, without the parenthesis this time, conversions are …
… I wish I could credit the person and website I took this from but I have long forgotten, sorry. It’s genius.
Why would you want to do this? You may need the coordinates of a location or a destination to enter into a GPS or share with somebody else. You may want to hide a geocache but not have a GPS or you may want to cross-check your handheld GPS readings against Google maps.
Useful links: The browser based Google maps at maps.google.com | The application based Google Earth can be downloaded from earth.google.com | Convert Coordinates – Calculate a position in a variety of formats at www.earthpoint.us | The orienteering.org website | Geocaching
Here’s something I will be experimenting with and, no doubt, be writing more about: GMapToGPX a browser bookmarklet to convert Google maps direction data into GPX which you can download to some GPSs. This means you can create custom route plans in Google maps — and have printouts that match the route your GPS will take you on.
This blog post tries to answers questions like “How to geocache without a GPS?”, “How to find a cache using Google maps?”, “How to hide a cache without a GPS?”, “Using Google maps in place of a GPS for geocaching?” and “How to cross check your GPS coordinates?” and “How to calibrate your GPS?”.