How high is it?

Problem: How can you approximate the height of a distant object such as a water tower or smoke stack? The answer is easily determined by knowing how far you are away from it, using a stick, and applying simple principles of trigonometry.
By Staff February 1, 2000

Problem: How can you approximate the height of a distant object such as a water tower or smoke stack? The answer is easily determined by knowing how far you are away from it, using a stick, and applying simple principles of trigonometry.

Solution: Hold the stick so that you get a measurement from your eye to the center of your hand with the arm fully extended. Mark this spot on the stick (21 in. for me). Then back up as far away from the object as you think it is tall.

Hold the stick straight up and down at arm’s length. Move back and forth until you can line up your mark on the stick with the object (at eye level) and the top of the tower. Back up the height of your eye from the ground (about 5 ft). You are now as far away as the object is tall. Pace off or measure the distance from this point to determine the exact height of the object.

Contributor: Greg Klima, Assistant Plant Engineer, Santee Print Works, Sumter, SC