Daily Archives: 20th December

Haversine formula

The haversine formula is used to calculate the distance between two points on the Earth’s surface specified in longitude and latitude.

d is the distance between two points with longitude and latitude (ψ,φ) and r is the radius of the Earth.

As an example I have calculated the distance between Fermilab in Illinois (41° 49′ 55″ N, 88° 15′ 26″ W) and CERN’s Meyrin campus in Switzerland (46° 14′ 3″ N, 6° 3′ 10″ E). There’s a little too much maths for this site to handle so I have included a .PDF file of the working below.

The value calculated is 7084 km, which isn’t quite correct. This is because the formula assumes that the Earth is a perfect sphere when in fact it is an oblate spheroid. To compensate for this Vincenty’s Formulae must be used; these are much more complicated but give a more accurate value of 7103 km.