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Contribution of Gerard Mercator`s Map of 1569 for the History of Navigation
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 Title & Authors
Contribution of Gerard Mercator`s Map of 1569 for the History of Navigation
Kim, Sung-June; Luc, Cuyvers;
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With the 500th anniversary commemoration of Gerard Mercator`s birth in 2012 now passed, there is the possibility that his name will fade back into obscurity. This would be both unfair and pitiful, because Gerard Mercator`s name should be highly regarded as one of the principal contributors to navigational science and the promotion of marine safety. An accomplished cartographer, in 1569 Mercator published a remarkable 18-folio world map, depicting the then-known world in a new format with straight rhumb lines. While this distorted the size of land masses, particularly in higher latitudes, this new projection made navigation much easier for now all sailors had to do was to draw a straight line between two points to plot their course. Mercator clearly had this navigational benefit in mind, though his contemporaries did not immediately recognize its value. It wasn`t until after Mercator`s death, when Edward Wright (1599) and Henry Bond (1645) used and explained the new projection and demonstrated the use of straight rhumb lines in navigation that the Mercator projection became the standard for sea charts. Today, 450 years later of his death, electronic charts still rely on the projection Mercator invented and developed, confirming his position as a giant in the history of navigation. This paper introduces his life and work, detailing the importance of the 1569 world map and its contribution to navigational science and safety.
Gerard Mercator;Mercator`s projection;rhumb line;loxodrome;history of navigation;
 Cited by
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