The azimuthal equidistant map is a valid map. The map is a projection of the spherical Earth. Like every other map, it has distortions. It is not the “flat-Earth map,” and the usage of the azimuthal equidistant map does not endorse a flat Earth.
Flat-Earthers claim the shape of the polar azimuthal equidistant map as their own “flat-Earth map.” It is identical with the azimuthal equidistant map only in shape, but not in everything else. Unlike the azimuthal equidistant map, the so-called “flat-Earth map” does not represent reality.
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The azimuthal equidistant projection is a projection of the spherical Earth. As a result, a map using this projection has distortions in distances, shapes, directions, and areas. Just like the azimuthal equidistant map, all other types of maps have their distortion characteristics.
In the illustration, the eight yellow dots indicate a location 5000 km from the red dot, toward all the cardinal directions and the intermediate directions. We can see that the distances, shapes, directions, and areas are distorted in some way depending on the location on the map.
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Flat-Earthers discovered a map titled “Air Map of the World” from 1943, explaining the flight routes during the time. Because the shape is identical to the fictional “flat Earth map,” they incorrectly claimed that it is a flat-Earth map. In reality, it is an azimuthal equidistant map that has distortions, a flattened shape of the spherical Earth on a flat surface, and does not depict the true shape of the Earth.
The exact nature of the map is even explained in a very detailed manner in the map’s description. Unfortunately, in the flat-Earth community, the map is passed around in a very low resolution, and therefore, the explanations become unreadable.
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The Earth is a sphere, a three-dimensional shape. But in most cases, we work with two-dimensional media, including paper, computer displays, televisions, phone screens, whiteboards, etc. To represent the Earth on a two-dimensional medium, it is necessary to transform the curved shape of Earth’s surface into a planar form using one of the many map projections.
All map projections necessarily introduce distortion into the results. Some flat-Earthers think that distortions are ‘evidence’ of failure of modern science to explain the world. In reality, the distortions are simply a consequence of transforming the curved surface into a planar form. It is impossible to create a map without distorting it in some fashion, the same way it is impossible to perfectly flatten a ball without cutting it.
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At any given time, there is an equal area of the Earth that is experiencing daytime, and that is having a night time. The reason is that the sun is very far, and it would illuminate a hemisphere of the Earth, and leave the other dark.
If we plot which areas of the Earth that are getting sunlight on an azimuthal equidistant map centered on the north pole, the sun would appear to illuminate a somewhat elliptical area during the northern hemisphere summer, and a lopsided Bat-Signal shaped area during the winter. During the equinox, the sun would appear to illuminate a half-circle area.
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