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Research Guides

Maps & Cartographic Information: Nautical & Aeronautical Charts

Search tips for finding maps, atlases, aerial photos, GIS, and other cartographic materials.

Nautical Charts & the Collection

The University of Washington Map Collection has the most recent available nautical and aeronautical charts of the world, with an emphasis on the Pacific Northwest. Superseded charts are discarded, with the exception of charts for Washington State, which are moved to our historic map cases. For details on coverage, see below.

How Do I Find Nautical & Aeronautical Charts?

Charts are only listed in the UW Library Catalog by series name. Each chart series has one record, which contains an item list of the individual maps by chart number.

Therefore, BEFORE looking in the catalog:

  1. Ask Map Staff which series will best suit your needs.
  2. Find the index map for the series you want. Index maps are filed in the first drawer of each series.  A few index maps can also be found online (see below).
  3. Charts are filed by number within each series.

UW Map Collection: Scope of Nautical and Aeronautical Charts

Charts are only listed in the online catalog by series name. Below is a list of links to the individual record for each series.

Related Terms & Definitions

A nautical chart is a graphic portrayal of the marine environment showing the nature and form of the coast, the depths of water and general character and configuration of the sea bottom, locations of dangers to navigation, the rise and fall of the tides, locations of man-made aids to navigation, and the characteristics of the Earth's magnetism. Nautical charts are essential for safe marine navigation. (Adapted from the NOAA website.)

Aeronautical charts are similar to nautical charts, except that their function is to aid pilots of aircraft. As a result, these charts emphasize topography, heights of obstructions, airports, and airways. (Thanks to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online.)

Where Can I Buy Charts?