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Page 6

New York Amateur Computer Club Newsletter

Google Earth

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Google Earth (http://earth.google.com) is a new offering from Google that offers a unique spin on online cartography. While most mapping services try to offer you a straight for- ward approach to mapping, Google’s newest tool takes quite a different tact. Described by Google as “a globe that sits in your PC,” Google Earth offers a new perspective on mapping software. Like all its major competitors, Google Earth will allow you to find addresses, points of interest, or a driving route. What makes Google Earth different is the way in which items are displayed to the user. Google Earth has to install software on your machine, and once installed it needs an internet connection to display its images. Also be advised that Google Earth is resource intensive: it requires a fairly fast machine with 3D graphics capability.

When you first start up Google Earth you see the below im- age:

Another great feature of Google Earth is angular display. Not only are dead top center views available but you can also tilt the plane of the viewing area to see things in the distance. Now this sounds like I should be able to tilt the image and see the windows on my house, but that just isn’t possible. All the images are from satellite or aerial photographs that are also taken from straight overhead.

Topography is another feature that Google Earth incorporates makes the tilting feature quite impressive. Topography is how the terrain rises and falls in any given location. Google earth uses 3D technology to render the rise and fall of the land based on radar data gathered from multiple space shuttle missions. The images are melded with the topography and you have the impression of seeing mountains rise and canyons fall:

Google Earth generates an image of the planet taken from a mosaic of satellite and aerial photographs. If you enter an ad- dress such as your home in the search bar, Google Earth doesn’t just pop a map of your neighborhood but actually flies to the location. You see the image of the earth get larger and larger as if you were descending on the location from outer space. All the time as the planet moves closer, the pro- gram continually generates more detailed pictures of the sur- face until you are sitting above the location you are searching for.

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