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Height and Distance and Trigonometry

This topic explains and explores the relation between horizontal, vertical and tangential
distances. We knowledge of some basic Trigonometric ratios i.e.
Sin
Cos
Tan
to understand these relations. Let us see what do these mean.
There is a triangle ABC, right-angled at B.

As the name indicates Sin, Cos and Tan are ratios.

They are the ratios of the length of sides of the triangle.
AB
is
perpendicular, the side opposite to angle
BC
is
base, the side at 900 with the perpendicular
AC
is
hypotenuse, the side opposite to 900 angle

is
the angle between base and hypotenuse.
So in a right angled triangle, for a given acute angle, BAC there are six possible ratios of
sides.
The values of all these ratios are constant.
These ratios are called trigonometric ratios.

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Opposite side
Hypotenuse

P
AB
=
AC
H

Cosine

i.e. cos

Hypotenuse

B
BC
=
AC
H

Tangent

i.e. tan

Opposite side

p
AB
=
AC
B

Cosecant

i.e. cosec

Hypotenuse
Opposite side

H
AC
=
AB
P

Secant

i.e. sec

Hypotenuse

H
AC
=
BC
B

B
BC
=
AC
P

Cotangent

i.e. cot

Opposite side

How to remember this, in order of

Sin ---------------> Cos -----------------> Tan
Pandit

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P
H

B
H

Har

Har

p
B

Bolen

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Now let us see some of the values of angles for trigonometric ratios:

These values are used in most of the height and distance questions and are very handy.
Trignometric identities
There are also some trigonometric identities, which are discussed as below:
(i)

sin2 + Cos2 = 1

(ii)

sec2 = 1 + tan2

(iii)

cosec2 = 1 + cot2

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(i)

Application of ratios: .16 .39 .1.07 2.14 3.56

Area of a triangle
= Product of 2 sides sine of included angle.

(ii)

(iii)

Area of a quadrilateral = Product of diagonals sine of angle between them.

(iv)

In a ABC, where a, b and c are the lengths of the opposite sides of BAC, ABC and ACB.
a
b
c

This is called the sine rule.

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(v)

In ABC,1.11
a2

b2 + c2 - 2 bc cos A,

b2

c2 + a2 2 ca cos B,

a2 + b2 2 ab cos C.

c2
This is called cosine rule.

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Angle of Elevation : If a person on a lower level looks up at an object at a higher level, the line
of sight makes an angle with the horizontal called the angle of elevation.

Angle of Depression : If a person standing at a higher level observes an object at a lower level,
the line of sight makes an angle with horizontal called the angle of
depression.

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Example 1

Example 2.

Find the value of cos 30o. cos 60 o + sin 30 o . sin 60 o ?

cos 30 o . cos 60 o + sin 30 o. sin 60 o
Taking the values from the table of values of Sin and Cos,
we get the following values
3 1 1
3
3
3
3

2 2 2 2
4
4
2
From the to of a tower the angle of depression of a car on the ground 150
feet away from the bottom of the tower is 30.
Find the height of the tower ?

C
Let CA be the tower and O be the object.
Here we are given length of base, and we have to find the length of
perpendicular i.e. CA. So we shall use formula for Tan.
Therefore
Tan 30o
=>

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=
1
3

OA
CA

OA
150

OA
150
20
OA

mts.
150
3
3

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Example 4.
is 30o.

The angle of elevation of the top of a building from a point on the ground
On walking 24m towards the building, the angle of elevation becomes 60o.
Find the height of the building? 2.3
Let us draw the figure first.

In ABD,

Tan 60o

So,

DA

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BA
x

DA DA

BA
x
1

x
AC 24
3
3

x
3
o

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x
x
3x
24
3
3
2x
3x x
24

24
3
3

3 x 24

x 12 3mt.

So the height of tower = 12

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3mt.

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Example 5. A person on the top of a light-house on the seashore finds that a ship coming
towards the light-house takes 10 minutes for the angle of depression to change from 30o to 60o.
Find the time taken by the ship to reach the shore from this position.

y
Here Tan 60o =
Tan 30o =

3 h

3 y ..(i)

h
1
xy

h
.(ii)
xy
3
3

Equating (i) and (ii), we get

xy
3y x y
3
x
2 y x or y , So if it takes 10 min to cover x distance, then for y distance it will take 5
2
3y

minutes.

Example 6. There are two houses, one on the each bank of the river, just opposite to each other.
One house is 54m high. From the top of this house, the angles of depression of the top and the
foot of the other house are 30 o and 60 o respectively. Find the width of river and the height of the
other house.
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Let AB be the house of height = 54m and

DC = h be the height of house on the other side.
Also CA = DE.
Now in ABC
Tan 60o
=
54/CA =
=>
CA
=
54/ 3
So,
CA
=
DE
=
54/ 3 mt.
Now in EBD Tan 30o = BE/DE = BE / (54/ 3 )

3BE
54 3BE
54

So,
EA

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=
=
=

BE
=
DC
AB BE
54 18

18mt.
=

36 mt.

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Example 7.

Sin y + Sin y cot2y

Sin y (1 + cot2y)

Sin y (Cosec2y)

= Siny
=

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1
Sin 2 y

1
cos ecy
Siny

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