Links: Night Cities, Educators, VE Imagery, Space Telescopes, Custom Compass

  • Night Cities – Some of the International Space Station crew have been taking night-time photos of cities around the world. NASA has released a number of these night-time images and explain the background on what was involved taking them. Not only that, but they have created KML files showing the location of each photo, and the placemark description includes a photo. See for example this page for the Tokyo photo, and the KML file from that page. I was disappointed at first that they hadn’t attempted to overlay them. But, after spending more than an hour trying to align just a couple of photos I gave up myself. NASA hasn’t give the position of the space station as a component of the data, so it it is difficult to determine the angle the photos were taken. I had similar problems when I aligned these daytime NASA photos.

  • Educators – Discovered another useful reference for educators looking to use Google Earth. Steve Kluge of Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York has created this web page that serves as a manual for using Google Earth designed for educators. He also makes it availabe in PDF form. It has suggestions for ways to use GE in the classroom, and basic tips on using Google Earth. See also JuicyGeography by Noel Jenkins in the UK. Noel has been an enthusiastic GE educator since it first came out.

  • VE Imagery – Microsoft has released another huge (22 Terabyte) update to their imagery. Not only normal orthographic aerial imagery, but also a huge new batch of Bird’s Eye oblique imagery – in new places like Australia, Greece, and the UK. See the full list here along with some screenshots/links.

  • Space Telescopes – Orbiting Frog has released a KML file for tracking the current positions of some of the more noted space telescopes. He is using his tool previously reported which shows the position of orbiting objects around the Earth.

  • Custom Compass – Gerardo has posted a really nice compass modification for Google Earth which adds a compass rose (adding E, S, W, and other cardinal points). Borrowing on the idea from Barry Hunter, Gerardo’s version is more versatile. However, this requires you to modify the default image by replacing an image in the Google Earth directory. This way the compass turns with your view just like you would expect. Read his post for details.

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. Clifton says:

    woah! That is a huge VE update! They have Bird’s eye view up until about 500 feet from my house 🙁 (near Rock Hill, SC). Oh well, i guess i’ll have to wait just a little longer.

  2. Virtual Earth – 22 terabytes maybe, but don’t get too exited. At first sight the list promisingly refers to improved imagery for “France” (as a whole), where GE is patchy, but spot checks show simiar variation in VE, and for lots of places in Scotland, still poor in GE, but the extent of improved coverage is disappointingly limited.
    The VE interface still continues to be decidedly clunky, with the tile structure very obvious when browsing, in comparison to GE on the same bandwidth and Mac – just try the Isle on Man to see an extreme chequer board effect as you zoom in.

  3. The NASA website for each image does give the spacecraft location. If you scroll down to find the section labeled “Nadir”, you’ll find the date and time of the photo, the latitude and longitude below the spacecraft, the altitude of the spacecraft, sun direction and elevation at the nadir point on Earth, and the general direction towards the center of the photo.

  4. the streetview mobile have be sighted recently in ottawa ontario

  5. they updated again it seems. Now I can see my house in 3 of the four directions. Yipee!

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