New Layers Update – Earth at Night NASA Layer

[UPDATED 2009 to reflect current location of layer]
New NASA Layer in Google EarthGoogle has just pushed out a new layers update. The biggest new addition I’ve found is a new NASA layer under the “Featured Content Gallery” layer. One of the new features in the NASA layer is a “Earth at Night” image overlay for the entire Earth. It shows how much light various cities are putting out at night (or light pollution for those of us who like stargazing). Not only that, but the new layer is a regionated layer so when you zoom in closer it brings in more detail. Very cool! The NASA layer also includes a couple of sub layers: 1) placemarks to Astronaut Photography taken of the Earth from space, and 2) Interesting satellite photography NASA has collected of the Earth.
I’ve also noticed that the icons for the Populated Places layer have changed – more noticeable stars for the capitals. I’m sure I’ll get used to them, but they seem more distracting than the old one.
I will report here as I find other things. This was a surprise layers update – as I had no word from my usual sources.
The Earth at Night layer is set up as a radio button. This implies to me they mean to add other overlays. The most obvious overlay from NASA would be their Blue Marble Next Generation (like the one I mentioned in this article, or the one I created for my BMNG Add-on). But, since there is only one item in the layer now, it seems silly to use a radio button. Maybe they plan to add to it soon. NOTE: you have to open the NASA folder “Earth City Lights” to be able to turn ON or OFF the Earth at night image layer.
New Roads Layer Colors – GEB reader Marco points out there are new roads layer colors in Germany. I believe other countries are sporting new colors as well.
Road Layers available in 15 more European Countries – From Google: “…we’ve also updated the European roads in Google Earth, 15 countries now in Europe, as well as adding more content for the Netherlands, like business listings layers and country names in Dutch.“.
NOTE: Google’s official announcement on the layers update from the Google Lat-Long Blog.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Google did an awesome update of the roadlayers in Germany including new symbols and colors. Alltogether it’s very close to the original ones wich were used in Germany. THANKS Google!
    Concerning to the Nasa “Earth at Night” layer: I can’t see it. Only the 2 satellitelayer-buttons are shown to me 🙁 Does it depend on the localisation?

  2. I am sorry, but i am not able to see the Layer of Earth by night, even thought i have updated my google earth. Could you please explane how to add this layer? Thank you!

  3. Even though I’m from Germany, I use the English language in Google Earth and I’ve got no problem seeing the Earth at Night layer. I just switched the language to German….and the layer is gone 🙁
    I hope it’s just a mistake by google, cause the showing the earth at night isn’t really limited to any language….except maybe the information text that is showing

  4. MiG – I’m told Google is aware of the problem and they are working to fix it.

  5. Dunkleosteus says:

    “Google did an awesome update of the roadlayers in Germany including new symbols and colors. Alltogether it’s very close to the original ones wich were used in Germany.”
    Ditto Finland and Sweden, and probably many others. The numbers are harder to read, but they have the correct look which I appreciate more. Looks like Russia has finally got a proper road layer.
    Google could include much more Shuttle photography. Nasa has collected a huge amount of high-quality photographs taken by astronauts during shuttle missions over the years.
    The new capital symbol is better than the original one.

  6. Hi Frank – am a regular user of your website – think GE is absolutely amazing – no excuse for boring geography lessons now !!
    Any idea when GE are going to update Georgia, USA as I have family there and I know alot has changed since they did the last photos. Hartfield airport for example has a new fifth runway which isn’t even on there !! Thanks Mark

  7. i downloaded the Google pack and Google earth is not on there, can anyone help

  8. FINALLY Google has fixed the earth at night layer, wich wasn’t shown on some localised versions

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