Google Earth 4.2 Roundup

Google Earth 4.2 was released last week. The big news of course was the new Sky database which uses Google Earth to let you explore telescope views of the night sky. But, GE 4.2 also contains some pretty cool new features in support of the new KML 2.2 beta specification. In particular, the new photo features and the ability to embed flash applications in placemark descriptions (sadly, only on Windows though).
Here is a roundup of some interesting contributions from KML developers experimenting with the new features:

  • Live Webcam – Valery Hrosunov has posted how you can include a webcam in the new PhotoOverlay tag of KML 2.2 and include refresh tags to cause it to update as frequently as the webcam updates. This means you can position a web cam in Google Earth just as the real camera is positioned, and have it dynamically update. OgleEarth explains more about how it is done. The example above is from a webcam near Valery in Perm, Russia.

  • Airport Videos in Google EarthYouTube Airport Videos – Virgil Zetterlind of EarthNC has been anxious to try out some of the new features of KML 2.2 since the Google Developer Day three months ago. Now that GE 4.2 is out, he has produced this pretty amazing KML file (it works best with Windows version of GE 4.2 since you can only see embedded videos with Windows). He has queried the YouTube API for videos related to airports around the world. He is also using another KML 2.2 option which lets you link to other content within placemarks, so you can see multiple videos within the same placemark. Says Virgil: “The file was created by running a ICAO airport identifier search against the YouTube API. As such, it’s subject to errors and it misses a large number of videos due to poor tagging. Here’s hoping that over time more people will use the geotagging options on upload and that Google will better expose geotagged results via the YouTube API.” Virgil posted this at

  • GEB Text-to-Speech RSS – This will only work on Windows with GE 4.2. Joey Wade has posted a text-to-speech RSS feed which you can view in KML for Google Earth Blog. It uses a flash text-to-speech tool. Since I still haven’t set up my RSS feeds for GeoRSS, the only placemark location is tagged to my office for GEB.
  • New Sky Stuff

    • Reviews of Sky – shows snippets of reviews of Sky from a variety of media.

    • Sky forum – Lots of neat things are being posted in the new Sky forum at the Google Earth Community. If you’re into astronomy and like Sky, you should check it out. I’ll be summarizing the most amazing stuff in posts as usual here at GEB.

    • Best of Hubble – This KML file is interesting, not only because it gives an overview of Hubble Space Telescope pictures in Sky, but also because it uses some innovative KML features. It was published by some of the folks who worked on developing Sky at the HubbleSite. Instead of relying on the placemark descriptions, it uses KML ScreenOverlay tags combined with regions to show descriptions in the upper left. This way the view is not impeded as much by the unpredictable placemark bubbles. I don’t think this technique relies on GE 4.2, but tell me if I’m wrong. Anyway, I think it is an innovative idea which may have useful applications for educational KMLs.

    • Arp Catalog of Peculiar Galaxies (500) – A collection of placemarks to 500 peculiar galaxies in the night sky posted by ‘scottVee’ at the GEC. More on Arp.

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.

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