Google Earth Blog
The meteor strike in Chelyabinsk was quite a remarkable event, and thanks to the vast number of cameras out there it is possible to build an approximate 3D path of the meteor strike in Google Earth.
Stefan Geens at Ogle Earth has done an amazing job of illustrating an approximate path in Google Earth, based on some video clips and a bit of math.
Stefan took the novel approach of measuring shadow lengths and directions from some video clips, allowing him to calculate the approximate location of the meteor at it approached earth.
You can view the visualization in Google Earth by downloading this KMZ file and we highly recommend that you read his entire post here to see how he did it. The post, and path, has been updated as new data has been released.
Great work Stefan!
Here at Google Earth Blog we get a few questions almost every day through our contact form. We encourage you to use if it you ever have a question about any aspect of Google Earth.
With that in mind, here are a few of the most common ones we get related to imagery:
Do you have imagery for August 15, 2011 at 3:50pm? My house/car/business was broken into and we want to catch the thieves.
Sadly, this is incredibly unlikely. Because of the way that Google Earth imagery works, any given area is typically only updated once every few years. The odds that they captured imagery at the precise moment you need it, along with the the odds of the imagery actually capturing a detail that helps with the investigation, are very remote.
The imagery in my city is 3 years old. When will it be updated again?
The short answer is that we have no idea, as Google doesn't release that kind of information ahead of time. We recommend that you sign up to be notified when new imagery is released in your area, and be sure to keep an eye on the "historical imagery" as it's sometimes newer than the base imagery.
How can I get a live streaming view of Google Earth?
In short, you can't. Despite what you see in movies like "Men in Black", the government can't either. While it seems likely that we'll have a live-streaming Google Earth in the coming decades, the technology simply isn't there yet. Not only would you need thousands of additional satellites capturing imagery (and the corresponding servers on the ground to process it in real-time), but there are also images with daylight, weather, angles, etc. Beyond that, I'm sure we'll see issues with privacy begin to arise as well.
We again refer you to the "about Google Earth imagery" post to see how complex it is to add imagery to Google Earth. Having to cover all 57.5 million square miles of earth in real-time will be quite a challenge, but one that I know engineers are looking forward to tackling.
Be sure to check out the full basics section for more answers, don't hesitate to ask if you have other questions.
Happy Valentine's Day! In honor of this day, we'll show you some of the best romantic placemarks in Google Earth.
To start, we again show this collection of hearts in Google Earth, which can also been seen in the video below:
If you want to show off the collection on your own site, you can embed it from this page.
To help promote their "indoor maps" with a Valentine's Day angle, Google has created this cute romantic video to show how that new feature works:
One of my favorite features in Google Earth is the historical imagery. Being able to select a location and then view it from various points in time is awesome.
We've heard suggestions over the years that Google should offer some kind of "historical 3D buildings", where you could view 3D models of buildings from years past. While there are plenty of old buildings you can load from the 3D Warehouse, I've just stumbled across a 3D model that allows you to interact with it and view it in different states from across the centuries.
The model below is the Limburg monastery, created by SketchUp user Aerilius, who has created hundreds of amazing models (including one of the versions of Osama bin Laden's compound that we highlighted a few years ago).
As you can see, the model itself is very well done and would stand on it's own as a great example of SketchUp work. However, it gets amazing when you load the full KMZ file and view it in Google Earth. (note: disable the base 3D models in Google Earth while viewing this, as there is a different model found in this location)
When you load it, you'll find a number of options appear in your [Places] on the left side of the screen, allowing you to see the building in different stages from 1300, to 1892, 1943 and the current state of it.
I tend to doubt we'll ever see a feature like that built into Google Earth, as they have plenty of work to do to simply get us a fully-accurate 3D representation of the current state of the world. However, this is a very creative use of SketchUp modeling, and I hope we see more of them come out. If you know of any other models that have this feature, please leave a comment below and share them with us.
Great work Aerilius!
In just over a year, the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia and the folks at Google Sightseeing have taken a close look at the various venues in Google Earth to see how they're progressing. The current Google Earth imagery is from roughly 17 months ago and shows the buildings in various stages of progress. A good example of that is Fisht Stadium, home of the opening and closing ceremonies.
In addition, I expect we'll see most of the venues in 3D and perhaps even Street View imagery around the city. For now, the only venue in 3D is the "Iceberg Skating Palace", seen here:
For those of you that like to dig deep into Google Earth, a new book from the Geological Society of America might be something you'll want to check out. The book is called Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research, and it covers a wide variety of facets around Google Earth.
It includes content from a variety of writers that we've featured on Google Earth Blog over the years including Richard Treves, John Bailey, Mano Marks and Valery Hronusov. You can read the full table of contents to get a better feel for the content available in the book. The GSA describes it as follows:GSA Special Paper 492 consists of 35 papers that collectively synthesize the development and current uses of Google Earth and associated visualization media in geoscience education and research. Chapters focus on Google Earth and related tools, such as SketchUp, Google Fusion Tables, GigaPan, and LiDAR. Many of these papers include digital media that illustrate and highlight important themes of the texts. This volume is intended to document the state of the art for geoscience applications of geobrowsers, such as Google Earth, along with providing provocative examples of where this technology is headed in the future.
If you're interested in learning more about the book or to purchase a copy, head over to the GSA Bookstore site.
The forecast models still aren't in complete agreement, but it appears that Winter Storm Nemo could break some records when it hits the northeastern United States later today and tomorrow. It's likely that many areas will see at least a few feet of snow.
As we've shown you in the past, Google Earth has some great tools to help track these kinds of weather events. To start, you can enable the "Clouds" and "Radar" layers under the main [Weather] layer to get a look at the current radar and satellite conditions:
The radar and cloud layers are actually positioned miles above the surface of the planet in Google Earth, allowing you to fly below them to see the original imagery. As a cute bonus feature from Google, if you fly below rain or snow you'll actually see the precipitation falling when you're below the clouds. Here is a screenshot with snow falling, though it's hard to see when it's a static image:
To get details for a particular city, simply enable the "Conditions and Forecasts" layer, then click the icon for a city to get a detailed forecast:
Of course, you can also view radar information on your favorite weather site, many of which use Google-powered maps (such as my personal favorite, the "WunderMap" on Weather Underground).
If you're affected by this storm, we offer you our best. Stay warm and safe!
The folks at GP Circuits have mapped out 183 racing circuits from 27 championships in 36 countries, and they've wrapped them all inside of an excellent interface.
Along with providing stats, info and a great map view, every course is available in a "3D Fly-Through", which races you along the track using the Google Earth Plugin.
The also include elevation data for each course, and photos when available. It's quite a wealth of knowledge for those looking for info on circuits like these. As Google's 3D Imagery continues to expand, sites like this will only get better!
Check it out for yourself at GPCircuits.com
Thanks to sharp-eyed GEB reader 'Auquicu', we've learned that Google has just updated imagery in a handful of locations around the world.
As is often the case, you can use Google Maps to determine for sure whether or not a specific area is fresh. This new imagery isn't in Google Maps yet, so you can compare Earth vs. Maps to see what's new; the fresh imagery is already in Google Earth, but the old imagery is still in Google Maps. If you compare the two side-by-side and they're not identical, that means that you've found a freshly updated area in Google Earth!
Some of the updated areas include:
- Peru: Lima
- United States: Georgia (Albany)
If you find any other updated areas, please leave a comment and let us know!
When Google first released the Google Earth Plugin API, one of the demos they showed off was a simple game called Monster Milktruck. There's no objective to the game, but it turned out to be a fun way to travel around in Google Earth and has remained relatively popular over the years. In that time we've seen a variety of applications released that used much of the same code, including an Apollo Lunar Rover, Cycling the Alps and a Beastie Boys-themed game.
The latest is a game called Zeptoblaster that takes it to a different level.
Among other things, it creates two instances of the Google Earth plugin and allows you to play alongside a friend and try to shoot them with the blaster attached to your truck.
Part of the beauty of the game is that it includes collision detection, so you can see when an explosion hits your opponent. We've seen collision detection in other games before, such as Paul van Dinther's "Drive the A-Team Van", and it's a nice touch in this game.
As posted by Keir at Google Maps Mania, the technology behind the game is quite solid:One of the most impressive features of this game is the collision detection developed by John, which detects when a player's missile has hit the enemy truck. This collision detection works by creating bounding boxes for the 3d collada models of both milk trucks and for all of the missiles. It is then a simple process of detecting when the bounding box of a missile intersects with the bounding box of a truck (actually it isn't simple and actually involves a very complicated algorithm).
It's a great little game and you can try it for yourself at knowledgecrazy.com/zeptoblaster.
Last year we showed you the excellent satellite info from the folks at SES Astra. They created a great map that showed the locations and details of their 50 satellites.
Now they've released an iPad app with the same data, and it's very well presented.
Here is a brief video that shows how it works:
For now it is only available on iPad, though they're considering creating an Android version of it at some point in the future.
With more than 680,000 residents within a few kilometers of it, scientists keep a close eye on Japan's Sakurajima Volcano. A few weeks ago a new advisory was put out for the volcano and an image was captured by NASA less than an hour later. In the image you can clearly see the plume trail stretching for many miles.
You can view this image in Google Earth by loading this KML file.
Because of the high-resolution base imagery in the area and the 3D terrain of Google Earth, the volcano looks quite amazing even without NASA's image laid on top of it. The imagery is from 2005, though the historical imagery in Google Earth offers part of the island with slightly newer imagery. In any case, it looks quite awesome.
You can read more about the volcano and this new imagery over on the NASA Earth Observatory site.
Google has just released a big batch of Street View imagery, including the Grand Canyon, the country of Lithuania, parts of Japan and various other small sections in the United States. Thanks to GEB readers 'Munden' and 'Micah' for letting us know about it!
Last summer Google unveiled the "trekker" backpack for capturing Street View imagery on foot, and last fall they announced they were capturing imagery from the Grand Canyon. That imagery has now arrived!
There is imagery from all over the canyon (here is a good place to start), and they even ventured into Meteor Crater to capture the amazing imagery seen above. All told they've added 9,500 panoramas from the area, covering over 75 miles of trails and nearby roads.
As you can see above, one neat thing they added in Japan was the entire indoor area of an airport. In addition they've added several department store interiors, subways stations, and more.
Google has also added new imagery in Lithuania, as well as various small sections in the United States (and likely elsewhere in the world).
Remember that you can access all of this great Street View imagery from directly within Google Earth. Here's a video that shows some tips and tricks on how to do that:
When Google Earth 7 was released last year it brought with it a variety of excellent new features. Among them was the new "tour guide", allowing you to ride along on a tour of famous locations.
Google has just announced that they've added 100,000 more tours across 200 countries, with more than 1 million Panoramio photos included in them to help enhance the experience. That's a LOT of tours! You could spend a lifetime trying to visit all these places. Try visiting some places you always wanted to visit and get a 3D experience and photographs like no other. The photos are chosen from the best ranked photos for those locations.
As with the existing tours, these new tours are available in the desktop version of Google Earth as well as in the mobile apps. The tours will automatically arrive in your copy of Google Earth, with no software update required.
This short video shows a bit more about how they work:
(via +Google Earth)
While the content in Google Earth is remarkably polished, there are still map glitches to be found from time to time. For example, here are a few hundred of them that people have posted over on Google Earth Hacks.
Clement Valla at Rhizome has taken a closer look at how these anomalies occur and has arrived an an interesting conclusion:At first, I thought they were glitches, or errors in the algorithm, but looking closer, I realized the situation was actually more interesting -- these images are not glitches. They are the absolute logical result of the system. They are an edge condition--an anomaly within the system, a nonstandard, an outlier, even, but not an error. These jarring moments expose how Google Earth works, focusing our attention on the software. They are seams which reveal a new model of seeing and of representing our world - as dynamic, ever-changing data from a myriad of different sources - endlessly combined, constantly updated, creating a seamless illusion.
It's an impressive dive into the system of how Google selects imagery to be used in Google Earth. Valla discusses the basic idea that "better photographs are flatter, have fewer shadows and are taken from higher angles" and that broken images like that ones that he showcases are becoming more and more difficult to find. It's also worth reading this post about how Google captures and loads imagery into Google Earth.
Clement's piece is quite informative, and you can read the full article at Rhizome.
While Google Maps is a very popular and suitable tool for most kinds of real estate listings, the 3D features in Google Earth can be very useful to visualize real estate inside of tall buildings. Cube Cities does an amazing job of that, by clearly highlighting the location of their properties with obvious markings on the face of the 3D building itself. It's quite effective.
Clicking on red area then provides you with details about that listing, as seen here.
It uses the Google Earth API to display the buildings, then overlays them with various colored polygons to indicate the available space. It's an excellent use of Google Earth and has been put together very well.
Check it out for yourself at CubeCities.com.
(via Google Maps Mania)
Meograph started out as a pretty neat tool, but their rate of improvement is very quickly turning it into an amazing tool. A few days ago they released three new features that help make the system easier to use.
The new features include:
Map drag-n-drop: Reposition map markers easily, to get the exact location you want.
Precision video selection: Video start/stop times are now text-editable to the decimal place, to get the exact clip you want.
Longer narration: Now record up to 20 seconds per moment, to get the exact voiceover you want.
Here's a great example of a Meograph that takes advantage of these new features:
You can try it for yourself at www.meograph.com.
Have you built anything noteworthy on their platform yet? If so, share it in the comments below.