The new Sky feature in Google Earth 4.2 just keeps getting better. Here’s some new things for you to use and explore with Sky:
New Horizon Add-on for Sky – I previously mentioned about a Horizon add-on for Google Earth which was created by Michael Kosowsky of HeyWhatsThat.com. He E-mailed me today to let me know he had incorporated some suggestions I made for the add-on. You can now not only produce a horizon for your particular position on the Earth, but also get a version which uses the time slider feature of Google Earth to show you the horizon during the course of the day or night. He also has tried to simplify the steps for creating the KML add-on file. Here are some instructions from his e-mail:
To try it all out, head over to this web page.
Find yourself on the map. Select the next to last option (a
full day at one hour intervals) and hit “Submit.” When Google
Earth opens up with our overlays, open the “Sun, Moon, planets”
layer and double-click on “Sun” to center it, then start the
animation. You should be able to watch the Sun cross your
horizon. (Actually, your horizon crosses the Sun; you’ll understand
what I mean when you try it.)
Quick tips for running the animation: A slider appears on the top
right of the window when you load an animation. Hit the big
arrow to the right and stuff should move. There’s a cursor you
can manually drag. Click on the icon that looks like a clock to
the left of the slider to set options. More documentation here and here.
Note that if you save the network link in your My Places you will automatically have the horizon when you need it.
SpaceNavigator – The newest version of GE 4.2 (version 4.2.0196 was just released today – 12-September) now supports the very cool 3D mouse called the SpaceNavigator in the Sky mode. However, two of the axes are not set properly – you can fix this by bringing up the 3DConnexion control panel (usually the right button on the 3D mouse brings it up). Go to the Advanced settings pane and reverse the axes for “Pan Up/Down” and “Spin”. Now it will work properly in Sky, and its a great way to explore the Sky mode. But, when you go back to Google Earth, you have to reset the axes again. Hopefully, Google will get this fixed soon.
Google plans for Sky – Google, and the team of professional astronomers who helped develop Sky, have grand plans for getting the astronomy community to embrace Google Earth’s Sky mode. You can read a paper they’ve submitted here, and the full paper here (PDF). OgleEarth’s Stefan Geens summarizes some significant highlights from the paper here. I think this is great thinking, and have already encouraged some of my astronomer friends to look into it.