News: Gibraltar Terrain, Earth Surfer Code, Naval Observatory, Dutch Geography Animation, Earthpoint, Eclipse

  • Gibraltar terrain comparison in Google EarthGibraltar Terrain – Got an Email from GEB reader named Will who points out when Google updated the 3D terrain for Google Earth last month with new NASA SRTM data, it included better terrain for Gibraltar. It’s a BIG improvement over the previous data. It’s nice to see such a famous location get more realism. Just enter “Gibraltar” in the “Fly-To” search for Google Earth to fly there. Make sure your “Terrain” layer is turned on. I’ve heard reports of many places – especially along coastlines and islands – with better terrain. I already wrote about Les Saintes in Guadeloupe.

  • Earth Surfer Code – Earlier this month, Google had a popular booth at MacWorld. A Googler developed some code using the Wii Balance Board which lets you “surf” Google Earth. They promised to open source the software, and here is the announcement of its release.

  • US Naval ObservatoryAs mentioned when Google updated the Washington DC imagery for the inauguration, they also included sharper imagery for the US Naval Observatory. See Stefan Geens’ excellent summary of the subject including the censorship angle.

  • Dutch PaleoGeographic Animation – Google Earth Community (GEC) member ‘kite_surfer’ released an excellent time animation that shows a paleogeographic (study of geography from the past) analysis of the Netherlands from 9000 BC – 800 AD. The data is intended for teachers to use. You can read more about the background and how to use in his post. Here is the KML file. It shows overlays of the different geographic maps. After loading, use the time slider by putting your mouse near the top of the GE window and click the “Play” button by the time slider to see the animation.

  • Earthpoint – Bill Clarke of EarthPoint has developed a number of useful Google Earth files over the years. He says his grid coordinate tool lets you view UTM coordinates as an overlay. His convert tool lets you convert a position to different coordinate systems (UTM, MGRS, GEOREF, and more). And his ExcelToKML tool lets you make spreadsheets into Google Earth maps. Bill says the grid files have now been incorporated in several of the tools. Great stuff! See a GEB story on his township tool.

  • Eclipse – I’m late to point out that HeyWhatsThat updated their excellent Google Earth tool which lets you visualize an eclipse in Google Earth. But, you can still load the KML file (6 Mbytes) and view what happened. It uses the time slider to animate the event.

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. When you mentioned that Gibraltar and other coasts got new terrain, I immediately opened up Google Earth and checked out Rio de Janeiro. Sadly, the Sugar Loaf Mountain is still as flat as a slice of bread.

  2. Further 3D terrain updates include the White Cliffs of Dover (British Isles) and along the eastern coast of RĂ¼gen (Germany, Baltic Sea). They don’t quite manage to make it look like “cliffs” with a sharp drop-off and near-vertical walls, but anything is better than perfectly flat ground…

  3. Jay Bilyeu says:

    I can’t get Google Earth to work any more.
    It says driver mismatch.
    I have EMachine with Windows XP with all updates.
    This is the only place I have found to provide this information.

  4. Great information, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of cool things we can find in Google Earth. Keep them coming!

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