Astronomy Picture-Overlay of the Day in Google Sky

NGC 7331 in Google Sky from Space.comFor a long time, I’ve been viewing the splendor of the universe on the web by viewing the web site Astronomy Picture of the Day which is hosted by NASA. In fact, the site had its beginnings in 1995, so it really has been a long time. And, with better and better telescopes, and enhanced digital image processing, the pictures from the heavens have only been getting more beautiful. This is one of the reasons Google Earth’s new Sky mode is useful (for showing these pictures). But, even with the large number of photos built-in to Google’s Sky mode, it has only begun to show a small portion of the photos already available. And, every day more photos are being taken. There are sometimes many different photos taken of the same location with different telescopes. Fortunately, with Sky, you can overlay other imagery of the same spot.
Put this all together, and Google Earth Community member ‘syzygy‘ came up with the great idea of doing a Astronomy Picture-Overlay of the Day for Sky at the GEC forum for Sky. He’s been taking photos from APOD and and overlaying in the appropriate point in Sky. You just view the attachments to see the images he displays in Google Earth. For example, here is an image of NGC-7331 (which came from’s image of the day) – astronomers say it is close to being the twin of our own Milky Way galaxy. (NOTE: after you “Switch to Sky” mode in Google Earth, you may have to double-click on the NGC 7331 placemark in Places to be flown to see it). Syzygy has a great idea with this thread of posts, but an even better idea would be to get and NASA to start providing a KML file image overlays for their imagery by default. And, having a network link which automatically shows all the photos available would be even better.

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. Nice user name too. ‘syzygy’: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system (Webster)

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