John P. Snyder

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John Parr Snyder (12 April 1926 – 28 April 1997) was an American cartographer most known for his work on map projections for the United States Geological Survey (USGS). [1] Educated at Purdue and MIT as a chemical engineer, he had a lifetime interest in map projections as a hobby, but found the calculations tedious without the benefit of expensive calculators or computers. At a cartography conference in 1976, he learned of the need for a map projection that would suit the special needs of LandSat satellite imagery. [2] He had recently been able to purchase a pocket calculator (TI-59) of his own and set to work creating what became known as the space-oblique mercator projection, which he provided to the USGS at no charge.


He was subsequently offered a job within the USGS within two years, where his work apparently led him to the eventual publication of the definitive technical guide to map projections entitled Map Projections: A Working Manual among other works. He also authored Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map Projections which details the historical development of hundreds of map projections. Snyder developed at least one other projection, called GS50, which uses a complex polynomial to project the 50 U.S. states with minimal distortion. He taught courses on map projection at George Mason University. He was president of the American Cartographic Association (now CaGIS) from 1990–1991 and also served as a secretary to the Washington Map Society.

John Snyder died April 28, 1997.


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Gall–Peters projection specialization of a configurable equal-area map projection

The Gall–Peters projection is a rectangular map projection that maps all areas such that they have the correct sizes relative to each other. Like any equal-area projection, it achieves this goal by distorting most shapes. The projection is a particular example of the cylindrical equal-area projection with latitudes 45° north and south as the regions on the map that have no distortion.

Mercator projection Map projection for navigational use that distorts areas far from the equator

The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection presented by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It became the standard map projection for navigation because of its unique property of representing any course of constant bearing as a straight segment. Such a course, known as a rhumb or, mathematically, a loxodrome, is preferred by navigators because the ship can sail in a constant compass direction to reach its destination, eliminating difficult and error-prone course corrections. Linear scale is constant on the Mercator in every direction around any point, thus preserving the angles and the shapes of small objects and fulfilling the conditions of a conformal map projection. As a side effect, the Mercator projection inflates the size of objects away from the equator. This inflation starts infinitesimally, but accelerates with latitude to become infinite at the poles. So, for example, landmasses such as Greenland and Antarctica appear far larger than they actually are relative to landmasses near the equator, such as Central Africa.

Map projection Systematic representation of the surface of a sphere or ellipsoid onto a plane

A map projection is a way to flatten a globe's surface into a plane in order to make a map. This requires a systematic transformation of the latitudes and longitudes of locations from the surface of the globe into locations on a plane. All projections of a sphere on a plane necessarily distort the surface in some way and to some extent. Depending on the purpose of the map, some distortions are acceptable and others are not; therefore, different map projections exist in order to preserve some properties of the sphere-like body at the expense of other properties. Every distinct map projection distorts in a distinct way, by definition. The study of map projections is the characterization of these distortions. There is no limit to the number of possible map projections. Projections are a subject of several pure mathematical fields, including differential geometry, projective geometry, and manifolds. However, "map projection" refers specifically to a cartographic projection.

Orthographic projection in cartography map projection of cartography

The use of orthographic projection in cartography dates back to antiquity. Like the stereographic projection and gnomonic projection, orthographic projection is a perspective projection, in which the sphere is projected onto a tangent plane or secant plane. The point of perspective for the orthographic projection is at infinite distance. It depicts a hemisphere of the globe as it appears from outer space, where the horizon is a great circle. The shapes and areas are distorted, particularly near the edges.

Craig retroazimuthal projection

The Craig retroazimuthal map projection was created by James Ireland Craig in 1909. It is a modified cylindrical projection. As a retroazimuthal projection, it preserves directions from everywhere to one location of interest that is configured during construction of the projection. The projection is sometimes known as the Mecca projection because Craig, who had worked in Egypt as a cartographer, created it to help Muslims find their qibla. In such maps, Mecca is the configurable location of interest.

Werner projection

The Werner projection is a pseudoconic equal-area map projection sometimes called the Stab-Werner or Stabius-Werner projection. Like other heart-shaped projections, it is also categorized as cordiform. Stab-Werner refers to two originators: Johannes Werner (1466–1528), a parish priest in Nuremberg, refined and promoted this projection that had been developed earlier by Johannes Stabius (Stab) of Vienna around 1500.

Bonne projection map projection

The Bonne projection is a pseudoconical equal-area map projection, sometimes called a dépôt de la guerre, modified Flamsteed, or a Sylvanus projection. Although named after Rigobert Bonne (1727–1795), the projection was in use prior to his birth, in 1511 by Sylvano, Honter in 1561, De l'Isle before 1700 and Coronelli in 1696. Both Sylvano and Honter’s usages were approximate, however, and it is not clear they intended to be the same projection.

Oblique Mercator projection The oblique Mercator projection is the oblique aspect of the standard (or Normal) Mercator projection

The oblique Mercator map projection is an adaptation of the standard Mercator projection. The oblique version is sometimes used in national mapping systems. When paired with a suitable geodetic datum, the oblique Mercator delivers high accuracy in zones less than a few degrees in arbitary directional extent.

Goode homolosine projection map projection

The Goode homolosine projection is a pseudocylindrical, equal-area, composite map projection used for world maps. Normally it is presented with multiple interruptions. Its equal-area property makes it useful for presenting spatial distribution of phenomena.

Polyconic projection class

Polyconic can refer either to a class of map projections or to a specific projection known less ambiguously as the American polyconic projection. Polyconic as a class refers to those projections whose parallels are all non-concentric circular arcs, except for a straight equator, and the centers of these circles lie along a central axis. This description applies to projections in equatorial aspect.

The Roussilhe oblique stereographic projection is a mapping projection developed by Henri Roussilhe in 1922. The projection uses a truncated series to approximate an oblique stereographic projection for the ellipsoid. The projection received some attention in the former Soviet Union.

Alden Partridge Colvocoresses helped to develop the Space-oblique Mercator projection with John P. Snyder and John Junkins, and developed the first satellite map of the United States in 1974.

Van der Grinten projection map projection

The van der Grinten projection is a compromise map projection, which means that it is neither equal-area nor conformal. Unlike perspective projections, the van der Grinten projection is an arbitrary geometric construction on the plane. Van der Grinten projects the entire Earth into a circle. It largely preserves the familiar shapes of the Mercator projection while modestly reducing Mercator's distortion. Polar regions are subject to extreme distortion.

Space-oblique Mercator projection map projection

Space-oblique Mercator projection is a map projection devised in the 1970s for preparing maps from Earth-survey satellite data. It is a generalization of the oblique Mercator projection that incorporates the time evolution of a given satellite gound track to optimize its representation on the map. The oblique Mercator projection, on the other hand, optimizes for a given geodesic.

GS50 projection

GS50 is a map projection that was developed by John Parr Snyder of the USGS in 1982.

Guyou hemisphere-in-a-square projection

The Guyou hemisphere-in-a-square projection is a conformal map projection for the hemisphere. It is an oblique aspect of the Peirce quincuncial projection.

In cartography, a conformal map projection is one in which every angle between two curves that cross each other on Earth is preserved in the image of the projection, i.e. the projection is a conformal map in the mathematical sense. For example, if two roads cross each other at a 39° angle, then their images on a map with a conformal projection cross at a 39° angle.

Cylindrical equal-area projection

In cartography, the cylindrical equal-area projection is a family of cylindrical, equal-area map projections.

Stereographic projection in cartography

The stereographic projection, also known as the planisphere projection or the azimuthal conformal projection, is a conformal map projection whose use dates back to antiquity. Like the orthographic projection and gnomonic projection, the stereographic projection is an azimuthal projection, and when on a sphere, also a perspective projection.


  1. "NJDARM: Collection Guide". Archived from the original on 2013-03-24. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  2. Stockton, Nick (June 20, 2014). "Get to Know a Projection: The Space-Oblique Mercator". Wired. Retrieved 2014-06-21.