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Rhumb Lines and Map WarsA Social History of the Mercator Projection$
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Mark Monmonier

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226534312

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226534329.001.0001

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Soldiering On

Soldiering On

(p.97) 7 Soldiering On
Rhumb Lines and Map Wars
University of Chicago Press

Maps typically show only the grids' intersections with quadrangle boundaries because grid lines can interfere with other cartographic symbols. The story behind map grids and their projections is one of map history's more enigmatic footnotes. Military textbooks describe the roles of grid-based calculations. Grid lines through the projection's center typically coincide with a meridian and a parallel so that here at least the direction “grid north” reflects true north. Away from the origin, earth curvature deflects grid north away from true north and grid east away from true east. Typical of map distortions, this deflection increases with distance from the projection's axes. For military maps a projection's suitability hinges on whether grid-based calculations should favor distance or direction.

Keywords:   maps, grids, cartographic symbols, grid north, map distortions

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