converting lat/long shapes to arbitrary units (i.e., miles)

Discussion created by dustfurn on Jul 26, 2011
Latest reply on Jul 29, 2011 by dustfurn
I've just begun familiarizing myself with GIS concepts, and arcpy in particular. 

I have managed to load up a shape file ( polygons describing section/township/range) and read/write polygons from this shape file.  The shapefile uses decimal degrees (lat/long) to describe the polygons.

I'd like to be able to find the area (in miles^2) of these polygons.  I can probably manage to work out the trig to do this, but I figure there must be some existing tool or other functionality to do this conversion that i am overlooking in arcpy itself.  Is there some projection I can load or create to do this (convert from lat/long to some planar coordinate system)?

Thanks for any help,