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Mercator

The Mercator´s day

A day like today 508 years ago was born one of the parents of the current map, Gerardus Mercator. Although there are many other ways to move the Earth to a 2D plane (link to the shop) and, by no means, the representation of Mercator has been the most accurate of all ideas, it is, without any doubt, the most used since its invention. The reasons for such use will be discussed in another post, but today, we will pay our small tribute explaining the advantages and limitations of Mercator’s projection.

This is a cylindrical projection developed by Mercator in 1569 that began to be used in nautical charts, thanks, above all, to the ease of drawing straight lines between two territories. In fact, in the final geometry of the shapes the angles prevailed before the metric distances, precisely for the purpose of facilitating navigation. Mercator, aware of the distortion of such projection, published at the same time a mathematical formula that helped transform the measures into degrees of latitude.

Still today it is still used in cartographic portals such as Google Maps, Open Street Map or Bing Maps, a fact that suggests favorable factors for its use. Some experts talk about a greater ease of implementation for developers thanks to the grid of parallels and perpendicular meridians. Other opinions, perhaps worse intended, claim that the projection is favorable to rich countries, increasing them to a size that they do not really have.

This is a cylindrical projection developed by Mercator in 1569 that began to be used in nautical charts, thanks, above all, to the ease of drawing straight lines between two territories. In fact, in the final geometry of the shapes the angles prevailed before the metric distances, precisely for the purpose of facilitating navigation. Mercator, aware of the distortion of such projection, published at the same time a mathematical formula that helped transform the measures into degrees of latitude.

To this end, we would like to recommend a very interesting page regarding the size of the countries. (https://thetruesize.com/). From it you can compare each of them and check the distortion of Mercator’s projection, especially as we move further away from Ecuador.

This is precisely the biggest limitation it has. In fact, Alaska is represented larger than Brazil, for example, when it barely represents 1/5 of the South American country. Or Greenland appears the size of the entire African continent, when it is approximately the same size as Mexico.

Quote:

https://geoinnova.org/blog-territorio/descubre-sorprendentes-alternativas-interactivas-ante-la-proyeccion-mercator/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/mercator-projection

https://www.britannica.com/science/Mercator-projection

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