# 201

JKAU: Sci., Vol. 22 No. 2, pp: 201-210 (2010 A.D./1431 A.H.)
DOI: 10.4197 / Sci. 22-2.16
Geodetic Applications of Satellite Data
Hassan M. Asiri
Astronomy Department, Faculty of Science,
King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
hasiri@kau.edu.sa
Abstract. The global positioning system (GPS) provides an accurate data for
locations on the Earth's surface. In this paper, data for longitudes and latitudes
of more than seven thousand places in Saudi Arabia is considered. A database
for qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah for these places is
established. Spherical trigonometry is applied to perform geodetic
computations. The database is illustrated and a sample of it for some main
cities is presented.
Keywords: Qibla direction, Geodesic distance, Spherical Trigonometry,
GPS.
Introduction
Qibla is the direction of the Kaaba (the sacred building at Makkah, Saudi
Arabia) to which Muslims turn at prayer. The qibla is not only important
for the prayers, but also relevant to everyday ceremonies in Islam.
Therefore, determining the precise direction of the Kaaba has been
always the concern of all Muslims around the World.
The qibla for a place on the Earth's surface is the angle between the
North direction and the direction of the Kaaba with respect to this place.
This angle is measured clockwise and ranged from 0 to 360 degrees
[1]
.
On the other hand, geodesic distance is the shortest possible line
between two points on a sphere or other curved surface.
202
Hassan M. Asiri
On a sphere, geodesics are great circles. For instance, the shortest
route from the north pole P to the south pole Q of the Earth is given by
the shorter arc of the great circle passing through P and Q .
In this paper, more than seven thousand places in Saudi Arabia are
treated. Qibla direction for these places is determined, and geodesic
distance between Makkah and these places is computed. Basic spherical
trigonometric formula
[2, 3]
is applied to determine the qibla direction,
while Andoyer's formula
[4]
is used to compute the geodesic distance.
Data for longitudes and latitudes used in this paper are collected from
[5]
,
and they are expressed in degrees and minutes.
Qibla Direction
α

Fig. 1. Definition of qibla.
The problem of qibla involves spherical trigonometry, since it
considers the angles between the shortest lines on a sphere. The qibla
direction can be determined using more than one method such as; direct
solar observation and shadow method. However, basic spherical
trigonometric formula
[2, 3]
seems to be accurate enough for calculating
the qibla direction.
Figure 1 shows a spherical triangle PXM, where
203 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy
E : Equatorial plane
P : North pole
M : Makkah
α : Qibla
M
λ : Longitude of Makkah
M
φ : Latitude of Makkah
and
, 0 5 39 = ′ +
o
M
λ
, 5 2 21 = ′ +
o
M
φ
, 90 = φ − XP
, 90 =
M
PM φ −
. = λ λ −
M
XPM
Consider a place X on the Earth's surface whose longitude λ and
latitude φ , respectively, then the qibla direction is given by:
.
) ( ) ( ) ( ) (
) (
=
1

− −

λ λ φ φ φ
λ λ
α
M M
M
cos sin tan cos
sin
tan (1)
In the above equation, the quadrant where the angle α is located
should be taken into account.
Geodesic Distance
Consider two places
1
X and
2
X on the Earth's surface. Let
1
λ and
1
φ be the longitude and latitude of
1
X , respectively. Let
2
λ and
2
φ be
the longitude and latitude of
2
X , respectively. If we suppose that
1
X and
2
X are at sea level. Then the geodesic distance can be obtained using a
high accuracy formula, by Andoyer
[4]
, which considers the Earth's
flattening:
[ ], ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( 1 =
2 2
2
2 2
1
C sin B cos fA C cos B sin fA D − + β (2)
204
Hassan M. Asiri
where
), ( =
2 1 2
1
φ φ + B
), ( =
2 1 2
1
φ φ − C
), ( =
2 1 2
1
λ λ λ −
), ( ) ( ) ( ) ( =
2 2 2 2
B cos sin cos C sin F λ λ +
), ( ) ( ) ( ) ( =
2 2 2 2
B sin sin cos C cos G λ λ +
), / ( =
1
G F tan H

, / = H FG J
, 2 = aH D
, 1)/2 (3 =
1
G J A −
, 1)/2 (3 =
2
F J A +
, )/ ( = a b a f −
and a (6,378.1 km) is the Earth’s equatorial radius, b (6,356.8 km) is
the polar radius and f is the Earth's flattening.
Example
Calculate the qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah, for
the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh.
The longitudes and latitudes of Makkah and Riyadh, as stated in
[5]
,
are:
, 0 5 39 = ′ +
o
M
λ
, 5 2 21 = ′ +
o
M
φ
, 7 4 46 = ′ +
o
R
λ
, 1 4 24 = ′ +
o
R
φ
Using Mathematica and applying equations (1) and (2), we get:
205 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy
.398, 244 =
o
α
. km 798.682 = β
Summary
We have established a database which contains longitude, latitude,
qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah for more than seven
thousand places in Saudi Arabia. In this paper, we only present a sample
of this huge database for some main cities, see Table 1.
In Fig. 2, we illustrate the longitudes and latitudes of more than
seven thousand places in Saudi Arabia. Figures 3 and 4 show contour
plots for qibla direction and geodesic distance. Three-dimensional plots
of qibla direction and geodesic distance as functions of longitudes and
latitudes are illustrated in Fig. 5 and 6.
Table. Qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah for some main cities.
β

α φ
λ
City
798.682 km
244
o
.336 24
o
1 4 ′ 46
o
7 4 ′

1181.590 km
243
o
.990 26
o
6 2 ′
50
o
5 0 ′

Dammam
066.062 km
096
o
.337 21
o
9 2 ′
39
o
2 1 ′
Jeddah
452.207 km
322
o
.177 18
o
3 1 ′
42
o
1 3 ′

Abha
518.336 km
188
o
.206 26
o
3 0 ′
40
o
3 3 ′

Bahah
1066.470 km
186
o
.603 30
o
9 5 ′
41
o
1 0 ′

Arar
947.989 km
182
o
.399 29
o
8 5 ′
40
o
3 1 ′

Sakakah
336.547 km
176
o
.486 24
o
7 2 ′
39
o
8 3 ′

Medina
688.168 km
218
o
.409 26
o
0 2 ′
43
o
8 5 ′

Buraydah
206
Hassan M. Asiri
701.634 km
195
o
.960 27
o
1 3 ′
41
o
2 4 ′
Ha'il
575.824 km
330
o
.832 16
o
4 5 ′
42
o
3 3 ′

Jizan
628.371 km
314
o
.037 17
o
2 3 ′
44
o
2 1 ′
Najran
842.204 km
156
o
.085 28
o
4 2 ′ 36
o
2 3 ′

Tabuk

Fig. 2. Longitudes and latitudes of more than seven thousand places.
207 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy

Fig. 3. A contour plot for the qibla direction.

Fig. 4. : A contour plot for the geodesic distance to Makkah.
208
Hassan M. Asiri

Fig. 5. Qibla direction for more than seven thousand places.

209 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy

Fig. 6. Geodesic distance to Makkah for more than seven thousand places.
Acknowledgement
The author would like to thank King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi
Arabia, for funding this work under the project number: 3-H004/430.
References
[2] Bagvi, Malik. Determination of the Direction of Qibla and the Islamic Timings. Ashraful-
[3] Ilyas, Mohammad. A Modern Guide to Astronomical Calculations of Islamic Calendar,
Times & Qibla. Berita, Kuala Lumpur, 1984.
[4] Meeus, Jean. Astronomical Algorithms, 2nd ed. Willmann-Bell, Richmond Va, 1999.
[5] Ministry of Higher Education. Atlas of Saudi Arabia. Ministry of Higher Education, Riyadh, 1999.
210
Hassan M. Asiri

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where . However. The qibla direction can be determined using more than one method such as. Basic spherical trigonometric formula [2. and they are expressed in degrees and minutes. while Andoyer's formula [4] is used to compute the geodesic distance. Qibla direction for these places is determined. Data for longitudes and latitudes used in this paper are collected from [5]. and geodesic distance between Makkah and these places is computed. 1. 3] is applied to determine the qibla direction. direct solar observation and shadow method. Figure 1 shows a spherical triangle PXM . Asiri 202 On a sphere. Qibla Direction α Fig. For instance. since it considers the angles between the shortest lines on a sphere. basic spherical trigonometric formula [2. The problem of qibla involves spherical trigonometry. Definition of qibla. 3] seems to be accurate enough for calculating the qibla direction. the shortest route from the north pole P to the south pole Q of the Earth is given by the shorter arc of the great circle passing through P and Q .Hassan M. geodesics are great circles. more than seven thousand places in Saudi Arabia are treated. In this paper.

XP = 90 − φ . respectively. If we suppose that X 1 and X 2 are at sea level. by Andoyer [4]. ⎣ cos(φ )tan(φ M ) − sin(φ )cos(λ M − λ ) ⎦ (1) In the above equation. respectively. the quadrant where the angle α is located should be taken into account. which considers the Earth's flattening: β = D 1 + fA1 sin 2 ( B)cos 2 (C ) − fA2 cos 2 ( B) sin 2 (C ) . Then the geodesic distance can be obtained using a high accuracy formula. Geodesic Distance Consider two places X 1 and X 2 on the Earth's surface. XPM = λ M − λ . [ ] (2) . φM = +21o 25′. PM = 90 − φ M . Let λ1 and φ 1 be the longitude and latitude of X 1 . then the qibla direction is given by: ⎡ ⎤ sin(λ M − λ ) α = tan −1 ⎢ ⎥. respectively. Consider a place X on the Earth's surface whose longitude λ and latitude φ .203 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy E : Equatorial plane P : North pole M : Makkah α : Qibla λ M : Longitude of Makkah φ M : Latitude of Makkah and λM = +39o50′. Let λ 2 and φ 2 be the longitude and latitude of X 2 .

8 km) is the polar radius and f is the Earth's flattening. 2 C = 1 (φ1 − φ2 ). 2 F = sin 2 (C )cos 2 (λ ) + sin 2 (λ )cos 2 ( B). for the capital of Saudi Arabia.1 km) is the Earth’s equatorial radius. φR = +24o 41′ . λR = +46o 47′. Using Mathematica and applying equations (1) and (2). as stated in [5]. we get: . and a (6. The longitudes and latitudes of Makkah and Riyadh. H = tan−1 ( F/G ).378. A2 = (3 J + 1)/2 F . 2 λ = 1 (λ1 − λ2 ). D = 2 aH . f = ( a − b )/ a . Riyadh. b (6. J = FG/H . A1 = (3 J − 1)/2 G . G = cos 2 (C )cos 2 (λ ) + sin 2 (λ ) sin 2 ( B). φM = +21o 25′.Hassan M.356. are: λM = +39o50′. Asiri 204 where B = 1 (φ1 + φ2 ). Example Calculate the qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah.

Summary We have established a database which contains longitude.590 km 066.399 176 .989 km 336.207 km 518.177 188 .603 182 .168 km 24 26 21 18 26 30 29 24 26 o 244 . we illustrate the longitudes and latitudes of more than seven thousand places in Saudi Arabia. Table.062 km 452.990 096 . we only present a sample of this huge database for some main cities. see Table 1.336 243 .206 186 .547 km 688.682 km 1181. qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah for more than seven thousand places in Saudi Arabia.205 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy α = 244o.336 km 1066.398.337 322 . Qibla direction and geodesic distance to Makkah for some main cities.409 o o o o o o o o o o o 26′ 29′ 13′ 03′ 59′ 58′ 27′ 20′ o o o 31′ 33′ 01′ 13′ 38′ 58′ o o o o o o o o o o o . In this paper. β = 798. 2. Figures 3 and 4 show contour plots for qibla direction and geodesic distance. City Riyadh Dammam Jeddah Abha Bahah Arar Sakakah Medina Buraydah 46 50 39 42 40 41 40 39 43 λ o φ 47′ 05′ 1 2′ α 41′ β 798. In Fig. 5 and 6. latitude.470 km 947.486 218 . Three-dimensional plots of qibla direction and geodesic distance as functions of longitudes and latitudes are illustrated in Fig.682 km .

.634 km 575.085 o o o o Ha'il Jizan Najran Tabuk 41 42 44 36 o 42′ 27 16 17 28 o 31′ 54′ 32′ 24′ 701.832 314 . Asiri 206 195 .960 330 . 2.824 km 628.371 km 842.204 km o 33′ 1 2′ o o o o 32′ o Fig.Hassan M.037 156 . Longitudes and latitudes of more than seven thousand places.

A contour plot for the qibla direction. 3. Fig. . 4. : A contour plot for the geodesic distance to Makkah.207 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy Fig.

5. Asiri 208 Fig.Hassan M. Qibla direction for more than seven thousand places. .

[5] Ministry of Higher Education. Atlas of Saudi Arabia. Karachi. Times & Qibla. [2] Bagvi. Mohammad. Riyadh. Riyadh. Astronomical Algorithms. [3] Ilyas. 2nd ed. World Guide to Qibla. Geodesic distance to Makkah for more than seven thousand places. [4] Meeus. . Kuala Lumpur. Richmond Va. Berita. Adnan. A Modern Guide to Astronomical Calculations of Islamic Calendar. 1999. Saudi Arabia. Determination of the Direction of Qibla and the Islamic Timings. AshrafulMadaris. for funding this work under the project number: 3-H004/430. Jean. Jeddah.209 Applications of Satellites to Geodesy Fig. 1999. 1970. 1999. 1984. Ministry of Higher Education. 6. Al-Khurayji. Malik. Willmann-Bell. Acknowledgement The author would like to thank King Abdulaziz University. References [1] Niyazi.

. .Hassan M.sa :­ .edu. . Asiri 210 – – – hasiri@kau. ­ . ­ .