Sky Goodies: Hubble Tracker, Sky KML Guide, Horizon Add-on

Here’s a collection of new goodies to play with for Google Earth’s new Sky mode (note, you must have GE 4.2 to see the new Sky mode – read about Sky here).

  • Hubble Tracker – Alberto Conti, of the Space Telescope Science Institute – and one of the scientists who developed the data for Sky, has posted a cool network link which lets you see the track and position of the Hubble Space Telescope in Google Earth. It automatically updates every 5 minutes to show you its current position as it orbits the Earth.
  • Sky KML Guide – A Googler has written a document explaining how to prepare KML files for Sky. It also explains how to convert the coordinates between normal GE and Sky. via Using Google Earth.
  • Horizon in Google SkyHorizon Add-on – One of the most frequently requested features in the last week, since Google’s Sky was released, is the need to show a horizon so you can know which stars are visible from your house at the current moment. Michael Kosowsky has created an application that will generate a horizon in Sky, and it shows the position of the sun, moon and planets as well. This technically makes Sky into a “planisphere” showing your sky as it is now. The network link automatically updates to show you the planisphere for the current time. It may be a bit intimidating at first, but follow these instructions and you’ll find it isn’t too hard. These steps are necessary so you get the horizon for your particular location on the Earth. If you are too impatient, here is a KML for London, England .
    1. First visit his site
    2. Next, check “All Panoramas” at the top and see if your location has already been calculated by looking for it on the map. Or in the list in the View menu. If your location isn’t listed, simply select “New Panorama” at the top and find your location on the map. Follow the instructions to set your location and Submit request. After a couple of minutes you should get a map showing your location.
    3. Now in the upper right above the map, look for View in Google Earth -> by night and select the night link. You will get a KML file taking you into Google Earth. Choose “Switch to Sky“.
    4. Once it loads, I recommend you click and drag the “Planisphere” network link for your location from the Temporary Places into your My Places. You can turn it on when you need it the next time you’re looking at Sky. Since it is a network link it will automatically reposition the horizon and planets to their current position.
    5. For further reading, here are Michael’s technical notes from his FAQ on the horizon feature. It shows you how to do even more with the network link. Great work Michael! I think Google should talk to you about making this a permanent feature in Sky.

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. Hi!
    It seems to me that, with the addition of the Sky functionality, Google Earth/Sky developpers need to address to problem of the north and south pole rendering. Do you know if any effort is going this way.
    With the international polar years going on, I thought that they would’ve already fix that problem by now.
    On another line of thought, I think GE should really try to add Hi-Res imagery of the other major city in Qu├ębec, Canada. To bad none of your government, be it provicial or federal, see the international exposure that can be gained with this wonderful tool, like many europe country and US states have realized. I’m sure we’ve got plenty of good imagery waiting to be shown world-wide.
    Thanks again for keeping me up on the good GE and now GS stuff.

  2. I want all the latest space related research and stuff

  3. Scott Herold says:

    I downloaded Google Earth for the Sky program and, in spite of a graduate degree and 20+ years of computer experience, found it almost worthless (except for pretty pictures) because there’s no user guide. One would think that, after all the work Google obviously put into it, they would have offered instructions. I deleted the program.

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