45.00′ N 90.00′ W, the Center of Our Neck of the Woods

45.00' N 90.00' WThere are only eight places on Earth where a 45° and a 90° cross--six are in oceans and one is in China, and this one in Marathon County

45.00′ N 90.00′ W
There are only eight places on Earth where a 45° and a 90° cross–six are in oceans and one is in China, and this one in Marathon County, Wisconsin.

Marker is near Poniatowski, Wisconsin, in Marathon County. Marker is on Meridian Road 0.3 miles north of County Road U, on the right when traveling north. Marker is about a 20 minute drive west of Wausau, Wisconsin.

The marker is near Poniatowski, Wisconsin, in Marathon County on Meridian Road 0.3 miles north of County Road U, on the right when traveling north. It is about a 20 minute drive west of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Our designation of time and space are all relative. Time more so since there are multiple time zones across our planet. Even within a time zone we freely change time with the use of Day Light Savings Time. I know many folks that set their clocks 10 minutes fast so they will not be late. Hmmm.

Your position in space is also relative but a little less so. We define our location relative to the surface of the earth. Specifically where are we relative to the equator (North/South) and some other arbitrary point (East/West).  The location of our equator is fixed as it is defined by the axis of the Earth.  The reference point for East/West is totally arbitrary and was determined by whomever was king of the mountain at the time.

Sir George Airy established the British reference point at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1851. Britain was the greatest sea power at the time and by 1884, over two-thirds of all Western ships and tonnage used it as the reference meridian on their maps. However there was a great deal confusion as other countries used different reference points (also known as the prime meridian).

That same year, at the urging of U.S.A. President Chester A. Arthur, 41 delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, D.C., for the International Meridian Conference. This conference selected the Greenwich meridian as the official prime meridian due to its common use. However, France abstained from the vote and French maps continued to use the Paris meridian for several decades. The French reference point was the Paris Observatory in Paris (where else could it have been).

A position on earth is now defined as how many degrees (we will leave the discussion about degrees to a later time) above/below the equator and how many degrees East/West of prime meridian as defined by the location of Greenwich, England.

Although arbitrarily determined, the now fixed prime meridian is now vital to the functioning of our car GPS units and the location finders in our cell phones.

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