Google recently added a neat new feature to Google Earth. If you haven’t been playing with (or working with) Google Earth, you don’t know what you’ve been missing.
Google Earth is fun to use as well as informative and entertaining. As you can see in the image above, Google Earth’s interface has five different sections. The most obvious one looks like a partial map of the world.
While this appears to be no more than a static image, it is far more. Using AJAX technology to stream data to you based on the things you do in the map window, you can zoom in, zoom out, drag to move, click to move, use your mouse’s scroll button to easily move around.
You can make more dramatic and flowing moves by typing a location into the "Fly to" search box at the top left of the Google Earth window.
The Places section lets you put pushpin markers on the map to mark your favorite spots. Google Earth comes preloaded with a number of spots, like the Grand Canyon and the Eiffel Tower. Of course, you can add your own pushpin markers for other locations important to you. The checkboxes let you optionally show individual markers.
The Layers section adds yet another layer of functionality to Google Earth. Just put a checkmark in a checkbox and you’ll get content markers on the map. For example, within Featured Content, there is a NASA heading with three types of data: Astronaut Photography, Satellite Imagery and Earth City Lights. Click on the content marker to see the content.
This week’s added function is Google Sky, which is accessed by the button on the menu icon bar at the top of the Earth/Sky section. Alternatively, you can click on View and select the option to change to Sky (or back to Earth).
With Google Sky, you can see the planets, constellations, nebulae and other Messier objects. Just like Google Earth, you can zoom and drag the Sky.
The Layers section now has similar options to that in the Earth option, but now they are focussed on astronomical features. For example, you can uncheck Constellation Lines and lose tthe lines connecting the constellation’s stars.
If you already have Google Earth, use its Check for Updates function under the Help menu. If you don’t, it is part of the free Google Pack software package.