Google Earth ‘Rainbow Planes’ Inspire Art

Fast moving objects, such as aircraft, when seen in satellite imagery often show ghosting or a ‘rainbow effect’. This is caused by the way satellite cameras work taking several photos in succession using different wavelengths of light. The separate images are later combined to produce the full colour images we see in Google Earth. If anything moved between shots then we see an image for each of the three primary colours in slightly different locations and usually a fourth, slightly higher resolution image, in grey-scale. To see examples of this see this post we wrote on the subject.

This effect has inspired artist James Bridle, who has created two different artworks based on the rainbow effect. We came across this article about his second one.

You can read more about it on the artist’s blog here. Also check out his other artwork here as many of them are mapping or satellite imagery related.


Rainbow Plane 002 in Kiev, Ukraine, by James Bridle.


We were able to track it down in Google Earth imagery, but it is only barely visible and the rainbow effect is not visible at all.

We also tracked down most of the locations of another series of his called ‘Drone Shadow’ but only found one in Google Earth imagery and it is also only barely visible. To see the locations in Google Earth download this KML file.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.