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Example 5: A woodcutter wants to determine the height of a tall tree.

He stands at some distance from the tree and determines that the angle of elevation to the top of the tree is 40. He moves 30 closer to the tree, and now the angle of elevation is 50. If the woodcutter's eyes are 5 above the ground, how tall is the tree? Figure 5 can help you visualize the problem.

Figure 5 Drawing for Example 5.


From the small right triangle and from the large right triangle, the following relationships are evident:

Substituting the first equation in the second yields:

Note that 5 must be added to the value of x to get the height of the tree, or 90.06 tall. Example 6: Using Figure 6 , find the length of sides x and y and the area of the large triangle.

Figure 6 Drawing for Example 6.


Because this is an isosceles triangle, and equal sides are opposite equal angles, the values of x and y are the same. If the triangle is divided into two right triangles, the base of each will be 6. Therefore,

Solve Right Triangle Problems


This is a tutorial on right triangles problems. Examples with detailed solutions and explanations are included. Example - Problem 1: Find sin(x) and cos(x) in the right triangle shown below.

Solution to Problem 1: 1. First use the Pythagorean theorem to find the hypotenuse h of the right triangle. h = SQRT(62 + 82) = SQRT(36 + 64) = 10 2. In a right triangle, sin(x) is given by. sin(x) = 8 / 10 = 0.8 3. and cos(x) is given by cos(x) = 6 / 10 = 0.6

Example - Problem 2: Two lines tangent to a circle at points M and N have a point of intersection A. The size of angle MAN is equal to x degrees and the length of the radius of the circle is equal to r. Find the distance from point A to the center of the circle in terms of x and r.

Solution to Problem 2: 1. A line through the center C of the circle and a point of tangency to the circle is perpendicular to the tangent line, hence the right angles at M and N in the figure below.

2. Tringles MAC and NAC are congruent right triangles. tan(x/2) is given by. tan(x/2) = r / d(NA) , where d(NA) =

distance between points A and N. 3. solve for d(NA) d(NA) = r / tan(x/2) 4. Use the pythagorean theorem in the right triangle NAC to find the distance d(AC) d(AC) = SQRT[ r2 + d(NA)2] 5. Substitute d(NA) by r / tan(x/2) to obtain d(AC). d(AC) = SQRT[ r2 + (r / tan(x/2))2] 6. Factor r2 d(AC) = SQRT[ r2(1 + 1 / tan(x/2)2] 7. Simplify d(AC) = r SQRT[ 1 + 1 / tan(x/2)2]

Example - Problem 3: Two right triangles have side a in common. x is the size of angle BAC. Find tan(x).

Solution to Problem 3: 1. We first use the right triangle on the right to find a tan(410) = a / 15 2. a is given by. a = 15 * tan(410) 3. We now use the right triangle on the

left to find tan(x). tan(x) = a / 10 4. Substitute a by 15 * tan(410) in the above. tan(x) = 15 * tan(410) / 10 5. Which gives tan(x) = 1.5 * tan(410)

Example - Problem 4: From point A, an observer notes that the angle of elevation of the top of a tower (C,D) is a (degrees) and from point B the angle of elevation is b (degrees). Points A, B and C (the bottom of the tower) are collinear. The distance between A and B is d. Find the height h of the tower in terms of d and angles a and b.

Solution to Problem 4: 1. Let x be the distance between points B and C, hence in the right triangle ACD we have tan(a) = h / (d + x) 2. and in the right triangle BCD we have tan(b) = h / x 3. Solve the above for x

x = h / tan(b) 4. Solve tan(a) = h / (d + x) for h h = (d + x) tan(a) 5. Substitute x in above by h / tan(b) h = (d + h / tan(b)) tan(a) 6. Solve the above for h to obtain. h = d tan(a) tan(b) / [ tan(b) - tan(a)] More references on solving triangle problems.

Triangle Problems