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Measuring a distance indirectly

To find the height of a tree, a person walks to a point 30 feet from the base of the tree. She measures an angle of 57° between a line of sight to the top of the tree and the ground, as shown in [link] . Find the height of the tree.

A tree with angle of 57 degrees from vantage point. Vantage point is 30 feet from tree.

We know that the angle of elevation is 57° and the adjacent side is 30 ft long. The opposite side is the unknown height.

The trigonometric function relating the side opposite to an angle and the side adjacent to the angle is the tangent. So we will state our information in terms of the tangent of 57° , letting h be the unknown height.

tan θ = opposite adjacent tan ( 57° ) = h 30 Solve for  h . h = 30 tan ( 57° ) Multiply . h 46.2 Use a calculator .

The tree is approximately 46 feet tall.

How long a ladder is needed to reach a windowsill 50 feet above the ground if the ladder rests against the building making an angle of 5 π 12 with the ground? Round to the nearest foot.

About 52 ft

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Key equations

Cofunction Identities cos t = sin ( π 2 t ) sin t = cos ( π 2 t ) tan t = cot ( π 2 t ) cot t = tan ( π 2 t ) sec t = csc ( π 2 t ) csc t = sec ( π 2 t )

Key concepts

  • We can define trigonometric functions as ratios of the side lengths of a right triangle. See [link] .
  • The same side lengths can be used to evaluate the trigonometric functions of either acute angle in a right triangle. See [link] .
  • We can evaluate the trigonometric functions of special angles, knowing the side lengths of the triangles in which they occur. See [link] .
  • Any two complementary angles could be the two acute angles of a right triangle.
  • If two angles are complementary, the cofunction identities state that the sine of one equals the cosine of the other and vice versa. See [link] .
  • We can use trigonometric functions of an angle to find unknown side lengths.
  • Select the trigonometric function representing the ratio of the unknown side to the known side. See [link] .
  • Right-triangle trigonometry permits the measurement of inaccessible heights and distances.
  • The unknown height or distance can be found by creating a right triangle in which the unknown height or distance is one of the sides, and another side and angle are known. See [link] .

Section exercises

Verbal

For the given right triangle, label the adjacent side, opposite side, and hypotenuse for the indicated angle.
A right triangle.

A right triangle with side opposite, adjacent, and hypotenuse labeled.

When a right triangle with a hypotenuse of 1 is placed in the unit circle, which sides of the triangle correspond to the x - and y -coordinates?

The tangent of an angle compares which sides of the right triangle?

The tangent of an angle is the ratio of the opposite side to the adjacent side.

What is the relationship between the two acute angles in a right triangle?

Explain the cofunction identity.

For example, the sine of an angle is equal to the cosine of its complement; the cosine of an angle is equal to the sine of its complement.

Questions & Answers

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SUYASH
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Ebrahim
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Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
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In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
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Prasenjit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Contemporary math applications. OpenStax CNX. Dec 15, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11559/1.6
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