See Guys Putting Up Sign on Luxor Hotel & Casino

Luxor Hotel and Casino ads in Google EarthA few months ago, Google updated the imagery for the Las Vegas imagery. It is still very high resolution, although I think the quality is a bit less than the previous set (see previous release story). Still, the resolution is very good – I’d guess between 4-5 inches per pixel (previously it was reported the imagery was 3 inch resolution, and the sun angle seemed better – closer to noon). You can still see very fine details such as car types, and even people and their shadows.
It used to be that on the side of the Luxor Hotel and Casino (which is a huge pyramid-shaped building with a scale-model of the Sphynx in the front) you could see an ad for “Hair Spray” on the front of the building (see bigger version of old photo). I’m sure the ads on the Luxor change from month to month. Looking at the Luxor now , there is only a portion of a new ad from Motorola on the building. Looking even closer you can actually see two guys rolling out a new ad from Motorola. Amazing!
Now, can anyone tell me why in the older photo the building appeared to have gold-mirrored glass and you could see reflection of trees and buildings – but, now it looks all black? Is it just the sun angle? Or, did they change the glass siding? One other note about the Luxor, turn on the “3D Buildings” layer to see a 3D model of the Luxor including the Sphynx, and many other Las Vegas hotels and casino buildings. [UPDATE: From the comments – see the Virtual Earth Bird’s Eye view of the Hair Spray ad – you can see the building looks black here too. It must be sun angle, and possibly photo processing in the older GE imagery that caused the gold look.]
By the way, since the new imagery is more recent, there are even more hotels present in the imagery. With one noticeable exception: The Stardust Hotel and Casino was demolished on March 13, 2007. The new imagery shows it is no longer there and new construction has already started. Watch a video of the implosion (which in Las Vegas style was done at night and included a fireworks show before the building was imploded).

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 post. It gave me a great idea for a question of a physics test on optics. I suppose the viewing angle and the sun’s altitude are affecting the reflection of the glass. The previous imagery was more oblique and sun was higher in the sky. I’ll think it over.

  2. Having lived in Vegas for five years, I can tell you the Luxor changed its appearance. Daily conditions would be reflected, the ground around the casino as well as the sky.

  3. MSN Virtual Earth birds eye view still has the hair spray ad, but the pyramid glass is black. Check out the shadows between them. It seems to me that the two ‘black’ effect views were taken only an hour or so apart while the earlier GE view was much later in the day. It looks as if the effect is related to sun reflexion.
    MSN view

  4. New update!!! Spain looks so good now! Valladolid, Leon, burgos, Avila, Segovia, Salamanca…
    andalucia, cataluña…

  5. The gold you saw was most likely a reflection of the Mandalay Bay casino next door.

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