Added 1976-08-26 14:08:23
App Freshness



Darren Gates
Great Circle Computer
Post Date:
2017-10-18 02:08:23

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This app consists of two Great Circle calculators.

Calculator #1: Compute true course and distance between points.

Enter lat/lon of points, select distance units and earth model and click “compute”. Lat/lons may be entered in DD.DD, DD:MM.MM or DD:MM:SS.SS formats.

Note that if either point is very close to a pole, the course may be inaccurate, because of its extreme sensitivity to position and inevitable rounding error.

Calculator #2:

Compute lat/lon given radial and distance from a known point

Enter lat/lon of initial point, true course and distance. Select distance units and earth model and click “compute”. Lat/lons may be entered in DD.DD, DD:MM.MM or DD:MM:SS.SS formats.

Note that the starting point cannot be a pole.

Background on Great Circles:

A great circle of a sphere is a circle that runs along the surface of that sphere so as to cut it into two equal halves (as distinct from a small circle). That is, it is the intersection of a sphere and a plane which passes through the center point of that sphere. All great circles of a given sphere have both the same circumference and the same center as the sphere. A great circle is the largest circle that can be drawn on a given sphere. Every circle is a great circle of exactly one sphere. Great circles serve as the analogue of straight lines in spherical geometry.

Great circle routes are used by ships and aircraft where currents and winds are not a significant factor. Flight lengths can therefore often be approximated to the great-circle distance between two airports. For aircraft traveling west between continents in the northern hemisphere these paths will extend northward near or into the Arctic region, however easterly flights will often fly a more southerly track to take advantage of the jet stream.

If one were to travel along a great circle, it would be difficult to steer manually as the heading would constantly be changing (except in the case of due north, south, or along the equator). Thus, Great Circle routes are often broken into a series of shorter rhumb lines which allow the use of constant headings between waypoints along the Great Circle.


  • Great Circle Computer Screenshot
  • Great Circle Computer Screenshot

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