Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Voortrekker Monument

Voortrekker Monument
The Voortrekker Monument is a monument situated in the city of Pretoria, South Africa. The massive granite structure was built to honour the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony in the thousands between 1835 and 1854. It was designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk.

The monument was inaugurated on 16 December 1949, the anniversary of the “Battle of Blood River“, and was designed so that the noon sun on that day would cast a ray of light onto the “Shrine of Honour”. The day is now a public holiday named “Day of Reconciliation”, to represent the hope for reconciliation between different racial groups after the end of Apartheid.

View a video of the Voortrekker Monument on Google Maps

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A Nightmare on Streetview

If you spend as much time trawling through Google Streetview as I do then you might begin to have nightmares about the Google Streetview camera. A nightmare a bit like this:

Visit our Street Viewer Gallery for less frightening streetviews.

Via: Google Earth Blog

Brú na Bóinne, Ireland

Newgrange Tomb
The Brú na Bóinne or The Palace of the Boyne is an amazing complex of Neolithic chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures located in a wide meander of the River Boyne in Ireland. The site is Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art.

The site covers 780ha and contains around 40 passage tombs as well as other prehistoric sites and later features. The most well-known sites within Brú na Bóinne are the impressive passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Each of the three main megalith sites have significant archaeoastronomical significance. Newgrange and Dowth have Winter Solstice solar alignments, while it is claimed Knowth has an Equinox solar alignment

View the Brú na Bóinne on Google Maps

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Google Maps Recent Edits Map

I'm a great fan of Twittervision type maps and it seems that the guys at Google Maps are as well. Twittervision was the first Google Map mashup to show real-time additions of placemarks on Google Maps. In effect when someone adds a comment on Twitter it is mapped in real-time on Google Maps. Now Google have produced their own real-time map of edits to Google Maps, called Google Maps Recent Edits.

Google recently allowed users of Google Maps to edit markers. For example if you type in your home address and the marker is a couple of houses out you can edit the marker so that in future it will appear in the next place.

Now with Google Maps Recent Edits you can sit back and watch these edits in real-time on a map.

via: Google Lat Long: Making Changes

NASA Captures Photo of Martian

NASA has captured an image of what looks like a Martian. The photo was taken by NASA's Spirit rover on the edge of the Gusev Crater on Mars. You can see the photo by clicking the red tag below which has been positioned in the middle of the Gusev Crater.

The spoilsports over at Bad Astonomy claim that this is not actually a Martian at all but a rock,

"...puhlllleeeeze. A man? It’s a tiny rock only a few inches high. It’s only a few feet from the rover!", they say.

You could of course try a little alien hunting yourself by visiting our Star Viewer map.

The Pomeranian Dukes' Castle, Szczecin

Pomeranian Dukes' Castle
The Pomeranian Dukes' Castle in Szczecin, Poland, was the seat of the Pomeranian Dukes of the House of Pomerania. Destroyed in World War II (August 1944), the castle was rebuilt in the 1980s.

Rebuilt after the war it became the seat of a number of administrative and cultural institutions. Chamber, classical and choral concerts such as The International Choral Festival are hosted at the castle. The northern and southern wings of the Castle hosts artistic exhibitions. The castle also hosts many historical events, such as archaeological and art preservation workshops.

View a video of the Pomeranian Dukes' Castle in Google Maps

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Star Viewer

Ant Nebula
See the night sky in all its wonder!

Google have fixed the bug in the Google Maps API which was causing zoom problems in our Star Viewer map. This means we can now use all the zoom levels available to Google Sky and it makes a huge difference.

If you haven't visited the Star Viewer map yet then do so now, it is a wonder to behold.

If you have Google Earth 4.2 (or later) you can also view the video collection in Goole Earth / Sky by downloading the Star Viewer KML

Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma State Capitol
The present Oklahoma State Capitol, in Oklahoma City is the second State Capitol in Oklahama. The first was located in Guthrie. However in the middle of the night, on June 11, 1910, the state seal was stolen from Guthrie and moved to Oklahoma City.

Construction of the present State Capitol building began in July 1914 and was completed five years later in 1919. However the building stood domeless for the rest of the twentieth century. The dome was completed and dedicated on Oklahoma's Statehood Day, November 16, 2002. So you could say the building took 88 years to complete.

View the Oklahoma State Capitol on Google Maps

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Star Viewer

We have today added a sidebar to the Star Viewer video map. The sidebar contains links to each of the videos on the map. It is now far easier to navigate the map and find the individual stars and galaxies.

There is still a bug in the Google Maps API which means that the map acts strangely if you try to zoom in past zoom level ten.

If you have Google Earth 4.2 or above you can also view the videos in Google Sky. Download the Star Viewer Kml here.

More Google Queries Sent to Google Maps

The number of Google queries that have been sent to Google Maps has trebled in the last year according to online traffic-measurement firm Hitwise. However Hitwise say this does not necessarily mean more people are searching for Google Maps.

In the past if you searched for an address Google would offer links to MapQuest, Yahoo and Google Maps. Now Google only sends you to Google Maps. Hitwise also suggests that searches for Mapquest are still ten times more common than Google Maps but Google now sends half as many people to MapQuest than to its own mapping site.

There has been growing criticism of Google moving into content creation because of fears that it will exploit its search engine to favour its own content. One of the most visited websites in the world is Wikipedia. Last year Google announced the development of a service called 'Knol' which many have seen as a direct competitor to Wikipedia.

Judging by Google's aggressive promotion of Google Maps at the expense of its competitors Wikipedia should be very worried.

Texas State Capitol

Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas is the largest State Capitol building in the US. The capitol has more floor space than any other state capitol building, and is almost 15 feet (5 m) higher than the National Capitol.

The state capitol was recently at the centre of a controversy about the displaying of a granite monument of the Ten Commandments. The display was challenged as unconstitutional but the Supreme Court ruled that the display was not unconstitutional.

View a video of the Texas State Capitol on Google Maps

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Death Star Galaxy

death star galaxy
We have added a number of new movies to the Star Viewer map. One of the movies is an animation of the recently discovered Galaxy 3C321 or 'death star galaxy'.

The 3C321 system contains two galaxies orbiting one another. The larger of the two galaxies has a supermassive black hole at its heart, and this has been producing a jet composed of high-energy X-rays and gamma rays. The smaller galaxy has apparently swung into the path of this jet.

View the Star Viewer map


View the movies in Google Earth

Hierapolis Amphitheatre

Hierapolis Amphitheatre
Sitting above the amazing Pamukkale hot springs in south-western Turkey is the ancient city of Hierapolis. One of the crowning glories of this Roman city was its amphitheatre.

In fact the amphitheatre that remains is actually the second that was built in Hierapolis. The first was destroyed in an earthquake in 17 A.D.. The present theatre was built in 60 A.D. with the remains and the seats of the old theatre.

View a video of Hierapolis Amphitheatre on Google Maps

Here are few more amphitheatrea:
Nimes Amphitheatre
El Djem Amphitheatre
The Colosseum
Verona Arena
Pula Arena

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From Here to There

Have you ever wondered how to get from here to there or from heaven to hell or have you been puzzled about the way from the start to the finish?

Well Google Maps can direct you (just try the links above). I already knew how to get to There, as I passed through There last year. I just never knew There was so near Here.

How about from top to bottom?
From the gutter to riches.

Via: Google Blogoscoped

Star Viewer

 The Trifid Nebula
We have completed a Google Earth layer for our Star Viewer map.

If you download the kml file you can view a number of amazing videos and animations of stars, nebulae and galaxies in Google Earth / Sky.

In order to view the videos you will need to have Google Earth 4.2 or later installed on your computer. The videos will also only play on a pc as Google Earth doesn't support video playback in Macs.

Download the Star Viewer layer for Google Earth layer

Google Sky

Google have announced a number of updates for Google Sky. There are new views of the sky across the electromagnetic spectrum, a layer showing how the sky changes over time and even a layer with podcasts that let you know about upcoming astrological events.

To celebrate this update we will be releasing our own layer of videos for Google Sky later today. If you can't wait you can view the Star Viewer here.

Via: The next generation of Google Sky

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound
Milford Sound was called the eight wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling. Although called a sound, it is more accurately classified as a fjord.

Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1200 metres or more on either side. Among the peaks are The Elephant at 1517 m (4977 ft), said to resemble an elephant's head, and Lion Mountain, 1302 m (4271 ft), in the shape of a crouching lion. Lush rain forests cling precariously to these cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins frequent the waters.

View a video of Milford Sound on Google Maps

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Queenstown, New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the areas of the world that has been relatively unrepresented on this site. One reason for this is that the videos we find don't do justice to the beauty of this country.

Today's video is a panorama of Queensland, New Zealand shot from the mountains overlooking the town showing the vista of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains beyond.

Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It is built around an inlet on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin lake shaped like a staggered lightning bolt, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains.

View a video of Queenstown on Google Maps

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Googleplex, California

Googleplex Courtyard
I'm not sure why we have never looked at the Googleplex before. One advantage of leaving it until now is that we can take advantage of Google Maps' December image update that provides very high detail satellite imagery of the Googleplex.

One very noticeable aspect of the Googleplex in this detailed imagery is the number of solar panels Google have installed. Through the installation of these panels Google plans to meet about 30 percent of the Googleplex's electricity needs.

View a video of the Googleplex on Google Maps

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The Google Summer of Code blog has posted about an application called touchEarth, that allows users to control Google Earth using two finger gestures on a multi-touch table. This video demonstrates the interface,

The application was developed by Pawel Solyga using the Google Earth COM API and the TUIO protocol.

Musikverein, Vienna

OK, we are five days late with this post but better late than never. Each year a worldwide audience in excess of one billion tunes in to watch the Vienna New Year's Concert from the Golden Hall in the Musikverein, Vienna.

The concert is largely composed of music by the Strauss family. The Golden Hall is forty-eight metres long, nineteen metres wide, and eighteen metres high. It has 1,744 seats and standing room for 300. However demand for the concert is so huge that the Vienna Philarmonic draws lots for the tickets. If you wish to attend the 2009 New Year's Concert you have until the 23rd of January to register at the Vienna Philharmonic website.

View a video of Musikverein on Google Maps

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Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius

Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
No one builds a cathedral quite like the Russian Orthodox Church and The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the granddaddy of them all. The cathedral in Sergiyev Posad is the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The monastery was founded in 1345 by one of the most venerated Russian saints, Sergius of Radonezh, who built a wooden church in honour of the Holy Trinity at the Makovets Hill. Sergius' numerous followers went on to found more than 400 cloisters all over Russia based on his template.

Most of the present cathedral was built in the 16th century. It is much larger than its model and namesake in the Moscow Kremlin.

View a video of Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius on Google Maps

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C153 Spiral Galaxy

The latest animation to be added to our Night Sky Video Map is the C153 Spiral Galaxy. The animation shows how this 'distressed' galaxy is being stripped of hydrogen from its spiral arms. Trailing 200,000-light-year-long streamers of seething gas, this galaxy that was once like our Milky Way is being shredded as it plunges at 4.5 million miles per hour through the heart of a distant cluster of galaxies.

View the video on the Night Sky Video Map