Using shadows is a quick way to estimate the heights of trees, flagpoles, buildings, and other tall objects. To begin, pick an object whose height may be impractical to measure, and then measure the length of the shadow your object casts. Also measure the shadow cast at the same time of day by a yardstick (or some other object of known height) standing straight up on the ground. Since you know the lengths of the two shadows and the length of the yardstick, you can use the fact that the sun's rays are approximately parallel to set up a proportion with similar triangles.
Because the sun's rays are parallel, the triangles are similar. Thus: