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One of the coolest services we’ve ever used is Google Earth. This is a 3-D rendered version of the planet that you can spin around, zoom in and out. You can even zoom right in to the point that you’re looking at your own house from above.
When you install and run Google Earth, the software accesses Google’s servers and connects you to terabytes of geographical information. Because it would be too much to download at any one time, the service only transfers information at what you’re looking at right now, and the lowest resolution that you need. As you zoom into a region, you can get more and more information and higher resolution images until you’re seeing the most detailed information for Google on Earth.
You can use Google Earth, either by navigating around the planet, and zooming in where you want to go, or you can type in a address and Google will just take you there. There are also additional plugins you can install that provide even more geographical information, like climate change maps.
If you don’t want to download and install a program like Google Earth, you can always access a service called Google Maps through your web browser. It doesn’t look as cool as Google Earth, but you can access it anywhere and it uses the same satellite imagery and address finding.
We have written many articles about Google Earth for Universe Today. Here’s an article about how people thought they might have seen the Loch Ness Monster in Google Earth, and how a geologist found a meteor crater in Google Earth.
We have also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast just about planet Earth. Listen to it here, Episode 51: Earth.