Cartographer, Geographer, Mathematician. He is best known for devising the Mercator Projection, a navigational tool still used in mapmaking. He was also the first to use the name "Atlas" for a collection of maps, and the first to make a distinction between North and South America. Mercator was born at Rupelmonde, Flanders. He studied at Louvain and met scientist Gemma Frisius, who strongly influenced his inclination to cartography. In 1534 he founded a geographical establishment at Louvain and published his first map. During the period of 1537 to 1540 he completed his famous map of Flanders, of which a copy exists in Antwerp, and at the order of Emperor Charles V made a complete set of observation instruments for the Emperor's campaigns. In 1538 appeared his map of the world and in 1541 he issued his celebrated globe. Mercator began to incline towards Protestantism and immigrated to Duisburg in Germany, where he was offered the chair of cosmography at the university and worked on his map of Europe (issued in 1554 and updated in 1572). In 1568 Mercator published his landmark planisphere for use in navigation, the first map ever made with the Mercator Projection of parallels and meridians at right angles. His last years were devoted to compiling an Atlas, with which he planned to crown his work by uniting in one volume his various maps to form a general description of the globe. The first two parts appeared in 1585 and 1590; the rest of the maps were finished by his son Rumold. He died in Duisburg.
Bio by: Rik Van Beveren