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Reference Lines on Earth, Continued - 14220_27
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Nautical Chart Interpretation - 14220_29
The Nautical Chart Background A  nautical  chart  is  like  a  road  map  for  the  world’s  oceans  and  inland waterways.  The  nautical  chart  is  designed  especially  for  navigation.  A chart  is  a  printed  reproduction  of  Earth’s  surface  showing  a  plan  view  of the  water  and  land  areas.  It  contains  parallels  and  meridians  to  use when  plotting  a  position,  locating  aids  to  navigation,  and  much  more. Chart Projections The  task  of  putting  the  round  Earth  on  flat  paper  is  a  complex  one.  This text  will  not  go  into  great  detail  on  chart  projections.  More  information on  this  subject  may  be  found  in  Dutton's  Navigation  and  Piloting. We will  discuss  the  two  projections  most  widely  used  in  today’s  Navy  and by  mariners  in  general. Mercator Projections Mercator  projection  charts  are  the  most  commonly  used  navigational charts.  Therefore,  it  is  important  that  you  understand  the  characteristics of  these  charts.  The  first  thing  to  understand  is  that  no  navigational chart  is  perfect. Example: Cut  a  hollow  rubber  ball  in  half  and  try  to  flatten  it  out,  you cannot  do  so  without  tearing  or  stretching  the  rubber.  In  fact,  no section  of  the  hemisphere  will  lie  flat  without  some  amount  of distortion.  No  system  of  projection  has  yet  been  devised  that  preserves the  exact  true  proportions  of  the  original  sphere. Mercator  projections  almost  always  display  meridians  and  parallels. Meridians  run  from  the  top  to  the  bottom  of  the  chart,  parallels  run  from the  left  to  the  right.  Due  to  distortion  in  high  latitudes,  this  projection rarely  exceeds  70°  north  or  south. Advantages: The  Mercator  projection  shows  a  rhumb  line  as  a  straight line.  A  rhumb  line  is  nothing  more  than  a  compass  course  or  direction plotted  by  the  navigator  to  show  that  he  will  follow  from  his  point  of departure  to  his  destination. Gnomonic Projections The  gnomonic  projection’s  chief  advantage  is  that  it  plots  a  great  circle as  a  straight  line.  This  is  most  useful  when  planning  long  ocean passages. It  is  always  best  to  take  the  shortest  route  from  point  A  to point  B.  This  projection  will  be  covered  in  greater  detail  in  chapter  12. 1-12

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