Portal:Atlas

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The Atlas Portal

Political and physical world map from the end of 2005

An atlas is a collection of maps, traditionally bound into book form, but now found in multimedia formats. As well as geographic features and political boundaries, many often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics.

The first book that could be called an atlas was constructed from the calculations of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek geographer working in Alexandria circa A.D. 150. The first edition was published in Bologna in 1477 and was illustrated with a set of 27 maps, though scholars say that it is not known whether the printed maps were engraved versions of original maps made by Ptolemy, or whether they were constructed by medieval Greek scholars from Ptolemy's text.

Atlas of Greek mythology

The origin of the term atlas is a common source of misconception, perhaps because two different mythical figures named 'Atlas' are associated with mapmaking. King Atlas, a mythical King of Mauretania, was, according to legend, a wise philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who supposedly made the first celestial globe. However, the more widely known Atlas is a figure from Greek mythology.

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Waterloo Campaign
Credit: Ipankonin
A map of troop movements during the Waterloo Campaign, leading up to the Battle of Waterloo where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated. Napoleon's Army of the North came up against a coalition army composed of forces from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Prussia, Hanover, Nassau, and Brunswick.

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NOAA continental US weather forecast map

A weather map is used to display an overview of one or more atmospheric variables at a specific time in the free atmosphere. They are used for the analysis and display of observations and computer analyses, including forecast fields derived by computer models. Maps using isotherms show temperature gradients, which can help locate weather fronts. Isotach maps, analyzing lines of equal wind speed, on a constant pressure surface of 300 mb or 250 mb show where the jet stream is located. Two-dimensional streamlines based on wind speeds at various levels show areas of convergence and divergence in the wind field, which are helpful in determining the location of features within the wind pattern. A popular type of surface weather map is the surface weather analysis, which plots isobars to depict areas of high pressure and low pressure. Special weather maps in aviation show areas of icing and turbulence.

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Shen Kuo

Shen Kuo or Shen Kua (10311095) was a polymath Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty. He excelled in many fields of study and statecraft, imcluding; mathematician, astronomer, geologist, zoologist, encyclopedist, poet and diplomat, among many others.

In his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation. Kuo also discovered the concept of true north in terms of magnetic declination towards the north pole. Alongside his colleague Wei Pu, Shen accurately mapped the orbital paths of the moon and the planets, in an intensive five-year project that rivaled the later work of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. To aid his work in astronomy, Shen Kuo made improved designs of the armillary sphere, gnomon, sighting tube, and invented a new type of inflow clepsydra clock.

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