Google Earth Live?

We often get asked by GEB readers how to upgrade to the ‘live’ version of Google Earth. Unfortunately, no such version exists and all imagery in Google Earth is dated – and in many places, the latest imagery, both over-head and Street View (where it exists), is several years old. However, it is possible to see some live content in Google Earth. For example, Google has recently added a new Voyager tour to the web / Android version of Google Earth that features bear cams (web cams looking at bears). Read more about it in Google’s blog post.

The first ‘bear cam’ we looked at featured a bear fishing live on camera.

For more web cams, in Google Earth classic, enable the Gallery-> layer. Keep in mind that most web cams do not show live video, but instead, a series of images captured at intervals, and it is not unusual for them to be out of date. So be sure to look for a time stamp before assuming that the image you see is current.

The closest one can get to live satellite imagery is feeds from weather satellites (as are used to create the ‘clouds’ layer in Google Earth). An example is the Himawari-8 satellite over Japan. Weather satellites are very low resolution and are mostly only useful for viewing cloud patterns and snow cover. For higher resolution, Sentinel-2 imagery is often published within a day of being captured, but requires downloading and processing to view. Landsat imagery is another option, but often takes longer to be released. To find the latest imagery use our KML files: Sentinel-2 and Landsat. We recommend only opening one at a time due to the large number of polygons in the files.

It is also possible to see live views from the International Space Station but you typically cannot see much detail of the surface of the earth.

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.


  1. Sprayandpay says:

    It’s because the US Government is paranoid about the data being released so terrorist cannot plan anything. The US Government since the 90s has gone WAY over the edge on paranoia *and sadly think it’s all right wing bull* so they are going after invisible terrorists they will never find while ignoring real threats until it’s too late. 😛

    The Egypt Revolution was done via smartphones so that REALLY sent western governments over the cliff in data privacy and they really begain pushing spyware and data sharing BS into your computer/device without permission.

    All our computers including my friends have all notice slow downs in the last year likely spyware since all our computers are kept up to date and protected with WebRoot which stops a lot more viruses then most virus scanners. It’s very rare for us to actually get hacked.

    With Norton *Virus Scanner* we were getting hacked on a monthly basis and dumped them when they went to Chinese slave labor. Webroot lets you put up to 5 computers.

  2. Sprayandpay says:

    If you’ve notice lack of traffic it’s because most users on here are ONLY on smartphones and smartphones use up minutes looking at stupid stuff like this that isn’t necessary to their daily life.

    I don’t use minutes up as I’m on a computer. If I go to facebook though I get bugged by *Upgrade to IM to increase your minutes!” NO I DON’T HAVE F-KING MINUTES! I’M NOT ON A PHONE! SHUT UP!

    One day we will see a FB ONLY OS and they will make it *fold* so people will go “I got a portable computer that FOOOOOOOOOLDS! I’M A GAAAAAAAAAAMER! *Plays Candy Crush*.

    (Looks at dumb crowd)

    I miss Windows XP era when people thought THIS was the future of computers rather then being expensive game machines. Microsoft CD Sampler. (long version)

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