More Information on Google Earth 4.2

Today Google released a new version of Google Earth – 4.2 (beta) which has two major new features: 1) “Sky” view – which lets you view the night sky from earth providing you with high resolution astronomical observations from a variety of reputable scientific sources; and 2) a new “photo viewer” capability (with support from the new KML 2.2 specification) which let you view photos in a new 3D-like and interactive way.
Google has released a number of resources to help show off the new Sky feature:

Night Sky in Google Earth 4.2
There’s also a new overview from Google Earth of the features in Google Earth 4.2.
So far there isn’t a lot of material from Google about the new photo viewer capability. The new photo viewer is essentially a way to view photos in a more 3D view inside the Earth. It’s supported by the new PhotoOverlay feature in a new version 2.2 of the KML file format which is used to exchange information for Google Earth. You can show the photos as they were taken, and then move into the viewer and view the photos up close. See this video which demonstrates the effect in action.
Already, a group that works closely with the Google Earth team called GigaPan has produced an excellent collection of panoramic views which take advantage of the new feature in an innovative fashion. View the Gigapan panoramic views in Google Earth 4.2 (you must have the new version of GE 4.2 installed). According to Randy Sargeant of Gigapan: “Anyone can upload a large panoramic image (50 megapixels minimum), click on ‘Place in Google Earth’, and you can adjust the panorama’s orientation and field of view until it’s correctly placed.
The techniques for doing this are already published, and people are already busily creating new GE files to show photos with the new technique. Expect to see a wealth of new innovative photo displays in the coming days and weeks.

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. I’ve never been big on looking in the other direction — as my interest has been mainly toward our planet. But I am absolutely blown away by this, having taken Google Earth to an entirely new, and overwhelmingly unexpected level in visualization and educational opportunities.
    Very cool, Frank.

  2. I have been a big astronomy geek since I was a wee pup and this is great. I remember in the late 80’s early 90’s buying computer software that did much of what Sky does in Google Earth.
    Aaron W. VanWieren

  3. olivier Hericord says:

    sky view does not work with the space navigator on mac

  4. Bill Taylor in England says:

    Do you have any information of the problem introduced in 4.2 that causes a red cross to replace the overview window and a stream_0 error. I have to deselect the overview display? This is using Vn: 4.2.0184.9679 (beta). The problem has been reported on Google Earth Help Group, but so far no response from GE.

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