Google Earth

March 3, 2007

I grew up wanting to be a cartographer. I loved maps of all types. When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, and with my brother’s help (thanks, bro!), I wrote letters to the chambers of commerce of all of the mid-size and large cities in the USA asking for maps of their cities. I ended up with a box full of maps of cities — and I’d spend hours poring over these maps and fantasizing (clean fantasies, c’mon — this is a family blog, sorta!) of traveling through these cities.Google Earth icon

A year or so ago, I discovered Google Earth.

Oh. My. Gosh. This. Is. One. Incredible. Program.

Go ahead and download and install it onto your computer, and then run it. First thing you’d see is, well, Earth. Learn how to manipulate it using your mouse — you can zoom in and out, tilt the view, and rotate the view. Zoom in to your hometown, and explore — you’ll see satellite views of everything. If Google has “high-resolution” maps for your hometown, you could even see what kind of car is parked in front of your house. (Hmm, whose car is that? Keep in mind that these satellite photos were taken a year or so ago.)

If you look at the left column, you’ll see checkmarks where you can turn on or off layers. Put a checkmark in the “Google Earth Community” box and then you’ll see lots of “i” icons — each one is like a snippet or note left by other people. Some are very informative, some are not. Uncheck that, and then checkmark the “3D Buildings” box — and then zoom into New York City and then tilt the view so that you’re looking at Manhattan from an angle. You’ll see 3D models of each building spiring up into the air. You can then navigate as if you’re flying in the air, in between the buildings. Totally. Mindblowing. (At least, for me.)

(NOTE: The photo above was taken by Flickr user Oquendo using an old version of Google Earth. The newer versions have some 3D buildings that actually LOOK like the real thing — especially for New York City.)

Check out the Matterhorn, again from the side and then fly around it. Awesome.

(Credit goes to Flickr user velorowdy.)

Google Earth can give you so much info via layers — postal zip codes, street maps, people’s experiences / notes, photos, National Geographic specials, CIA factbook info on countries, and so much more.

I could easily lose myself for hours poring over obscure tropical islands, looking for remote airports and fantasizing about being there. (And yes, this time, those fantasies aren’t appropriate for a family blog.)Google Earth sub-icon

Better stop now. G’nite, and happy mapping.


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