Google Earth Blog https://www.gearthblog.com The amazing things about Google Earth Tue, 21 Feb 2017 11:10:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 50387158 Fun with Google Earth’s terrain exaggeration https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/fun-google-earths-terrain-exaggeration.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/fun-google-earths-terrain-exaggeration.html#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 11:10:05 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20434 If you ever get bored of Google Earth’s 3D imagery, then a fun thing to try is changing the ‘terrain exaggeration’. It is a setting found in Tools->Options->3D View->Terrain (PC) or Google Earth->Preferences->3D View->Terrain (Mac). This setting stretches or compresses the terrain vertically, and it also applies to Google Earth’s 3D imagery. It can give […]

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If you ever get bored of Google Earth’s 3D imagery, then a fun thing to try is changing the ‘terrain exaggeration’. It is a setting found in Tools->Options->3D View->Terrain (PC) or Google Earth->Preferences->3D View->Terrain (Mac). This setting stretches or compresses the terrain vertically, and it also applies to Google Earth’s 3D imagery. It can give a whole new look to familiar sights.


Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. No terrain exaggeration.


Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. Terrain exaggeration: 3.


Cape Town, South Africa. No terrain exaggeration.


Cape Town, South Africa. Terrain exaggeration: 0.3.


New York, United States. No terrain exaggeration.


New York, United States. Terrain exaggeration: 3.

Remember to set the terrain exaggeration back to 1 once you are done.

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People in Google Earth’s 3D imagery https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/people-google-earths-3d-imagery.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/people-google-earths-3d-imagery.html#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:51:16 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20418 While exploring Google Earth’s 3D imagery, you will probably have noticed that even in the busiest cities, people are largely absent. This is because of the way the 3D imagery is captured. Based on previous analysis, the 3D imagery is captured by taking four images in rapid succession from an aircraft and then another four […]

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While exploring Google Earth’s 3D imagery, you will probably have noticed that even in the busiest cities, people are largely absent. This is because of the way the 3D imagery is captured. Based on previous analysis, the 3D imagery is captured by taking four images in rapid succession from an aircraft and then another four later on on a separate pass. It is also possible that more than two passes are combined, and we have even come across one case where it appears that Google combined imagery from completely different flights months apart. The overall result is that anything that is moving cannot be properly imaged in 3D. Over time, Google has got better at removing moving vehicles from the imagery so the streets appear almost empty, and we never seem to see pedestrians at all.

However, while exploring the 3D imagery in Dublin, Ireland we came across some people in the parks there. It mostly includes people lying down or sitting and they evidently stayed in the same place long enough that the 3D imagery process was able to capture them. However, as far as we can tell, none of them actually got proper 3D models. That is probably due to a combination of factors. The resolution of the 3D mesh is not really high enough to model a human. Also if the people were moving around even slightly, although they will still be visible in the image data, the algorithms used to generate the 3D from stereo images would fail.


Dubh Linn Gardens, Dublin, Ireland

We also managed to find some people on a beach in France. In this case a few of the beach umbrellas did get detected by the 3D generation algorithms. The waves on the shore seem to have caused problems for the algorithms as there are blobs of floating sand all along the shoreline.


Beach in Marseille, France


Beach in Marseille, France

Have any of our readers come across a place where a person was standing still long enough to get captured in 3D? Let us know in the comments.

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Record satellite launch allows Planet to image the planet daily https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/record-satellite-launch-allows-planet-image-planet-daily.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/record-satellite-launch-allows-planet-image-planet-daily.html#respond Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:51:21 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20401 A record breaking launch by India, on February 15th, 2017, put 104 satellites into orbit, including some 88 ‘Dove’ satellites owned by satellite imaging company Planet. The previous record for ‘most satellites launched in one go’ was 39 satellites and was held by Russia. Read more about the launch here. PSLV-C37 at launch. Image credit: […]

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A record breaking launch by India, on February 15th, 2017, put 104 satellites into orbit, including some 88 ‘Dove’ satellites owned by satellite imaging company Planet. The previous record for ‘most satellites launched in one go’ was 39 satellites and was held by Russia. Read more about the launch here.


PSLV-C37 at launch. Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

Planet already had a large number of Doves in orbit, but this launch more than doubled their fleet. Planet has now achieved its goal of being able to image all of earth’s landmass every day. The Doves have a resolution of 3-5m per pixel. Planet also owns the five Rapid Eye satellites, which have a resolution of around 5m per pixel. In addition, Planet is in the process of acquiring Terra Bella from Google, which comes with 7 sub-metre resolution satellites, and plans to launch many more.

Exactly how many Doves Planet has is a little unclear. Their previous blog post on the Terra Bella purchase, stated that they had a fleet of 60 medium resolution satellites. The blog post for this launch of 88 satellites states the new total is 144. Then later on in the same post, they say the entire fleet totals 149 satellites. We assume this is including the 5 Rapid Eye satellites, but not Terra Bella’s. So maybe 4 satellites were deorbited recently?

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Oroville Dam crisis imagery https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/oroville-dam-crysis-imagery.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/oroville-dam-crysis-imagery.html#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:30:25 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20395 Over the past few days a crisis has played out surrounding the Oroville Dam in California. It started with a hole developing in the dam spillway (1). In response, the California Department of Water Resources closed the spillway on February 7. But due to high rainfall, the water levels in the dam kept rising until […]

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Over the past few days a crisis has played out surrounding the Oroville Dam in California.

It started with a hole developing in the dam spillway (1). In response, the California Department of Water Resources closed the spillway on February 7. But due to high rainfall, the water levels in the dam kept rising until they eventually overflowed the emergency spillway (2). However, it soon became apparent that the water was eroding the soil at the base of the emergency spillway and there was concern that it might collapse. This resulted in an evacuation order on February 12th, affecting around 188,000 people who live in the danger zone downstream of the dam. At some point the main spillway was reopened and by February 14th the water levels were low enough that officials lifted the evacuation order.

You can get a more in-depth description of the events here and on Wikipedia.

There is an animation here showing the areas that would have been flooded if the emergency spillway had failed.

Google has recently released recent imagery of the area from DigitalGlobe’s ‘FirstLook’ program captured on February 13th.


Oroville Dam, February 13th, 2017. Image credit: DigitalGlobe.

The image quality is poor but we can see some erosion below the emergency spill way. The image was captured after the water levels has subsided somewhat and the water was no-longer flowing over the emergency spill way. We can also see where the hole in the main spillway causes the water to turn white and spill out of the spillway.

You can view the imagery in Google Earth with this KML file or download the raw imagery here.


A close up of the dam as seen in Google Earth’s 3D imagery. Bottom left: Emergency spillway. Centre: Main spillway. Top right: Main dam wall.

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Google Earth VR wins a Lumiere Award https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/google-earth-vr-wins-lumiere-award.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/google-earth-vr-wins-lumiere-award.html#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:20:40 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20380 Google Earth VR was awarded the Century Award for VR in service of environmental enrichment. The Lumiere Awards (not to be confused with the Lumières Award (French film) or the Lumiere Awards (photography) ) are granted by the Advanced Imaging Society and recognise outstanding achievement in cutting edge content and technology. Google Earth VR is […]

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Google Earth VR was awarded the Century Award for VR in service of environmental enrichment.

The Lumiere Awards (not to be confused with the Lumières Award (French film) or the Lumiere Awards (photography) ) are granted by the Advanced Imaging Society and recognise outstanding achievement in cutting edge content and technology.

Google Earth VR is only available for HTC Vive so I haven’t had a chance to try it out. However, Frank has tried it and was very impressed.

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Street View comes to Ghana and Senegal https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/street-view-comes-ghana-senegal.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/street-view-comes-ghana-senegal.html#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 11:02:52 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20367 Google has recently added Street View for the countries Senegal and Ghana. Some of the imagery is as old as 2015. Street View coverage for Ghana. Street View coverage for Senegal. The Great Mosque of Touba, Senegal. See in Google Maps. Elmina Castle, Ghana. See in Google Maps Other countries in Africa with Street View […]

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Google has recently added Street View for the countries Senegal and Ghana. Some of the imagery is as old as 2015.


Street View coverage for Ghana.


Street View coverage for Senegal.


The Great Mosque of Touba, Senegal. See in Google Maps.


Elmina Castle, Ghana. See in Google Maps

Other countries in Africa with Street View include South Africa and Botswana, which have extensive coverage. Uganda has Street View in its capital Kampala and a few parks. Kenya and Tanzania so far only have a few game parks covered.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Google Earth https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/celebrate-valentines-day-google-earth-2.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/celebrate-valentines-day-google-earth-2.html#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:36:08 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20357 Each year we celebrate Valentine’s Day by having a look at either heart shaped objects or romantic messages in Google Earth. Last year we had a look at heart shaped islands around the world. This year we are looking at some heart shapes formed in very different ways. A heart shaped fish trap on Cimei […]

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Each year we celebrate Valentine’s Day by having a look at either heart shaped objects or romantic messages in Google Earth. Last year we had a look at heart shaped islands around the world.

This year we are looking at some heart shapes formed in very different ways.


A heart shaped fish trap on Cimei island in Penghu County, Taiwan. See ground level photos here.

We came across this story about a British farmer that created a heart shaped meadow in memory of his wife. It was apparently first spotted by balloon rather than with Google Earth. It would appear that the farmer planted the trees around 1999:

And by 2014 we can see they have grown considerably but are not yet as high as the previously existing trees in the area:

And finally we have a building in Melbourne, Australia, which has a heart shaped roof:

To find the above locations in Google Earth, download this KML file.

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Protesting high speed rail with Google Earth https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/protesting-high-speed-rail-google-earth.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/protesting-high-speed-rail-google-earth.html#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2017 09:26:23 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20349 We recently came across this story about someone in the UK who decided to protest a planned high speed rail line that will go past his house by writing a message in his back yard. The high speed rail line is named HS2. He got the ‘2’ back to front by mistake. Download this KML […]

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We recently came across this story about someone in the UK who decided to protest a planned high speed rail line that will go past his house by writing a message in his back yard. The high speed rail line is named HS2.


He got the ‘2’ back to front by mistake.

Download this KML file to find the above location in Google Earth.

Although his protest has not stopped the line yet, construction on that part of the line is not scheduled to start until 2026. The official map for the HS2 line does not even include that section. We did, however, find it on the map on the Wikipedia page.

As we have seen in the past rude messages or drawings are not that uncommon in Google Earth.

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February 10/11, 2017 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse and Comet https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/february-1011-2017-penumbral-lunar-eclipse-comet.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/february-1011-2017-penumbral-lunar-eclipse-comet.html#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 12:00:03 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20337 There will be a penumbral lunar eclipse this weekend on February 10 or 11 depending on which part of the world you live in. For studying eclipses, we used to recommend a site called ‘HeyWhatsThat’ but it used the Google Earth API/plugin, which was discontinued last month. Another site by Xavier M. Jubier that offers […]

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There will be a penumbral lunar eclipse this weekend on February 10 or 11 depending on which part of the world you live in.

For studying eclipses, we used to recommend a site called ‘HeyWhatsThat’ but it used the Google Earth API/plugin, which was discontinued last month. Another site by Xavier M. Jubier that offers KMZ files relating to eclipses appears to be no longer being maintained and it does not include a KMZ for this weekend’s lunar eclipse.
[ Update 2017-02-10: We were incorrect and Xavier’s website is being maintained. See his message in the comments below including a link to a map and a way to get a KMZ version. ]


The eclipse will be visible from much parts of the world. Image from Wikimedia.

If any of our readers knows of a site that offers eclipse details that can be viewed with Google Earth, please let us know in the comments.

The site timeanddate.com has 2D maps of the eclipse and if you enter your location it can give you exact local times for when to see it.

The community telescope organization Slooh will be broadcasting the eclipse live on their site. As far as we can tell it will be publicly available without having to become a member.

Coinciding with the eclipse is the closest approach of green comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková. Read more about it here.

There will also be a partial solar eclipse on February 26, visible in parts of South America and Southern Africa

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Ancient earthworks in the Amazon https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/ancient-earthworks-amazon.html https://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2017/02/ancient-earthworks-amazon.html#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2017 10:59:50 +0000 https://www.gearthblog.com/?p=20329 We recently came across this interesting story about ancient earthworks in the state of Acre, Brazil. Most versions of the story call the earthworks geoglyphs but technically, geoglyph should only refer to a feature that was specifically created either as art or to have some meaning, whereas it is unknown what purpose these earthworks served. […]

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We recently came across this interesting story about ancient earthworks in the state of Acre, Brazil. Most versions of the story call the earthworks geoglyphs but technically, geoglyph should only refer to a feature that was specifically created either as art or to have some meaning, whereas it is unknown what purpose these earthworks served. Having said that, the Wikipedia page on Geoglyph features a photo of one of the Brazilian earthworks.

We found it frustrating that most versions of the story do not give coordinates for any of the earthworks, but eventually we found this article which features a KML file with locations of 440 of them.

The earthworks have only been found where the forest has been cleared. It is possible that the ancient Amazonians preferred the same locations that the current farmers who are clearing the land do, but it is quite likely that there are still many more earthworks to be found in uncleared areas. In addition, it is notable that the extent of earthworks shown in the KML file closely matches the extent of high resolution imagery, suggesting there are many more to be found as more imagery becomes available. This fact highlights the usefulness of Google Earth as a valuable tool for archaeologists. Some nearby regions have fresh imagery from 2016 so it is probable that more discoveries are already being made.

Looking around ourselves we started to see all sorts of shapes, such as the irregular circular ditch below:

But not being trained archaeologists we have no idea whether or not this is a recent excavation or an as yet unmarked ancient site or possibly just a natural feature that looks like a man made ditch.

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