LONGITUDE (from Lat. longitude, " length "), the angle which the terrestrial meridian from the pole through a point on the earth's surface makes with some standard meridian, commonly that of Greenwich. It is equal to the difference between local time on the standard meridian, and at the place defined, one hour of time corresponding to 15 difference of longitude. Formerly each nation took its own capital or principal observatory as the standard meridian from which longitudes were measured. Another system had a meridian passing through or near the island of Ferro, defined as 20 W. of Paris, as the standard. While the system of counting from the capital of the country is still used for local purposes, the tendency in recent years is to use the meridian of Greenwich for nautical and international purposes. France, however, uses the meridian of the Paris observatory as its standard for all nautical and astronomical purposes (see TIME). In astronomy, the longitude of a celestial body is the distance of its projection upon the ecliptic from the vernal equinox, counted in the direction west to east from o to 360.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)