I need to convert distance from meters to units of EPSG 3857 in PostGIS. This is important for me to calculate a radius for ST_DWITHIN as I'm dealing with geometries. How can I do this?

  • 1
    3857 is in metres already
    – Ian Turton
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 14:59
  • Yes, but meters in EPSG:3857 are badly distorted meters. Konrad, do you want to convert a circle with a radius in real world meters into an ellipse in EPSG:3857?
    – user30184
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


As an approximation suitable for medium-small radii, use the cos() of the latitude to scale up the true distance to a "distance" that makes sense for your latitude in web mercator, as described here.

FROM mytable
    ST_Transform(ST_SetSRID(ST_MakePoint(%lon, %lat), 4326), 3857),
    %radius / cos(%lat * pi()/180)

You only want to do this for small/medium radii because the scaling only makes sense at one latitude. The further you get from your reference latitude, the more wrong your radius gets. If you want a "perfect" result, you could pair this approach with a test on ST_DistanceSpheroid() to pare the results down to items exactly within the radius.

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