Friday, January 13, 2012

Mercator Projection

Mercator was the first to map the whole world in one book, which he baptised ‘atlas’.
The Mercator projection was developed in 1569 by by the Belgian geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator as a navigation tool. The grid is rectangular and lines of latitude and longitude are all parallel. The Mercator projection distorts the size and shape of large objects, as the scale increases from the Equator to the poles, where it becomes infinite.

Thanks to a rich uncle, Mercator was able to get the best teaching, with the humanist playwright Marcropedius in’s Hertogenbosch, the Frisian geographer Gemma Frisius and at the workshop of the talented goldsmith, engraver and globe builder, Amyricius, in Leuven. After his studies and apprenticeship Mercator established himself as an independent instrument builder and took his first steps as a geographer and globe builder for important clients like Charles V.

The development of the Mercator projection represented a major breakthrough in the nautical cartography of the 16th century. However, it was much ahead of its time, since the old navigational and surveying techniques were not compatible with its use in navigation.

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