Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Interacting Galaxies Map

I've added some explanations to the Interacting Galaxies Map. The Interacting Galaxies map highlights the European Space Agency's recent release of Hubble images of interacting galaxies.

Don't forget to view the videos on the Star Viewer Map as well.

Galaxy mergers, which were more common in the early Universe than they are today, are thought to be one of the main driving forces for cosmic evolution, turning on quasars, sparking frenetic star births and explosive stellar deaths. Even apparently isolated galaxies will show signs in their internal structure that they have experienced one or more mergers in their past. Each of the various merging galaxies in the map is a snapshot of a different instant in the long interaction process.

Arundel Castle, England

Arundel Castle
Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England is a restored medieval castle. The castle dates from the reign of Edward the Confessor (r. 1042–1066) and was completed by Roger de Montgomery, who became the first to hold the earldom of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror.

From the 11th century onward, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home to several families (with a few and brief reversions to the Crown) and is currently the principal seat of the Duke of Norfolk and his family.

View a video of Arundel Castle on Google Maps

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Carcassonne, France

CarcassonneCarcassonne is an incredible fortified town in southern France. The Romans were the first to fortify the town around 100 BC. In 1853 the fortifications were thoroughly restored by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and in 1997 it was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Make sure you watch the video on the map through to the end, as there is an amazing fireworks display over the town's ramparts.

View a video of Carcassonne on Google Maps

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Hubble Birthday to You

NGC 5257
As part of Hubble's 18th Anniversary ESA and NASA released 59 new images of interacting or colliding galaxies.

I've started to overlay the new images on this Google Sky map. So far I've added 15 and I hope to add many more in the next few days.

And don't forget to check out our Star Viewer map as well!

Hubble's 18th Birthday

Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. To celebrate the occasion ESA released a stunning collection of 59 new images of colliding galaxies. These images are presented in Hubblecast 16 in which Dr J explains how galaxies grow and evolve over time.

The new Hubblecast video has been added to the Star Viewer map. To view the video on the map click on the 'NGC 5257 & NGC 5258' link on the right hand list of links.

Alternatively click play on the video below:

Schloss Linderhof, Bavaria

Linderhof Palace (Schloss Linderhof) is a palace in Germany, near Oberammergau in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey. It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one of which he lived to see completion.

Although Linderhof is much smaller than Versailles, it is evident that the palace of the French Sun-King Louis XIV (who was an idol for Ludwig) was its inspiration. The gardens surrounding Linderhof Palace are considered one of the most beautiful creations of historicist garden design. The park combines formal elements of Baroque style or Italian Renaissance gardens with landscaped sections that are similar to the English Garden.

View a video of Schloss Linderhof on Google Maps

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Krak des Chevaliers, Syria

Krak des Chevaliers
Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader fortress in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world. It is located 65 km west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon, and is administratively part of the Homs Governorate.

Krak des Chevaliers was the headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades. It was expanded between 1150 and 1250 and eventually housed a garrison of 2,000. The inner curtain wall is up to 100 feet thick at the base on the south side, with seven guard towers 30 feet in diameter.

View a video of Krak des Chevaliers on Google Maps

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London Crime Map Update

I have added detection rates to the London Crime Map. Now as well as checking the crimes committed in each borough you can also see how many crimes have been solved.

The new figures do suggest that if you happen to be the victim of a burglary you have very little chance of the police solving the crime.

The new data might also cause some confusion as you might get a borough with no murders but with 2 murders solved. This anomaly occurs because you are viewing data for one month - so there may have been no murders that month but the police may have solved murders from previous months.

Dusty Supermassive Black Hole

I've added this video to the Star Viewer Map. The video is of a Dusty Supermassive Black Hole such as the one that lies at the core of galaxy NGC 1068 (click the NGC 1068 link in the left hand column of the map).

Supermassive black holes are found in the centres of active galaxies and have a dust torus around their waist. The jets coming out of the region nearest the black hole emerge from an area close to the black hole where a disk of accreted material rotates around the black hole.

Google LatLong: It's all connected

I see Virtual Tourism gets a mention on the Google LatLong blog today:

"Keir Clarke of Virtual Tourism put together an excellent collection of astronomy videos from around the web, all registered to the proper location on the sky. Keir's efforts follow in the footsteps of Stephanie Lange, who assembled the Hevelius Constellations layer. They are examples of Sky users who created something so cool that we had to share it with the widest possible audience."

They even managed to spell my name right.

The Virtual Tourism layer for Google Earth arose out of the Star Viewer map. I agree it is fairly cool :).

Via: Google LatLong: It's all connected

London Crime Map

This morning I've been working on producing a London Crime Map. This is a very early sneak preview. The map is built using Google's Spreadsheet Map Wizard and Yahoo's UI Library: DataTable.

At some point I hope to hack the html produced by the Google spreadsheet wizard so that I can change the tags on the map to clickable polygon areas. The idea is that instead of clicking on the tags, you should be able to click on any area of London and the relevant data for that area will appear in an info window.

I also intend to make the names in the London Borough column in the sortable table into links that will open the relevant info window on the map. - now completed.

My thanks to the Mapperz blog who pointed me towards the Met Office crime statistics.

Here are some US Crime Maps that I like:

Houston Crime Map
Chicago Crimes
LA Times Homicide Map

Google Maps Mania also has a long list of other crime maps (in the right hand column)

Street View in Milan

This photo of the Google street view car in Milan has been posted to Flickr. If you look at the picture on Flickr you can clearly see a Google street view logo on the side of the car.

So unless someone has done some neat work with Photoshop (which is always possible) it looks street view will soon be available for at least one European city.

Flicker Video

My love of Flickr video is growing by the day. I've added some more videos today to the Flickr Video Map.

I particularly like this video shot near the Royal Palace in Stockholm:

This next video doesn't really have a location associated with it, so I didn't add it to the map. However I like it so much I had to post it here.

Google Earth Virtual Tourism Layer

Google Earth 4.3 was released two days ago. The new release includes lots of new features like street view and night and day lighting effects.

More importantly there is now also a Virtual Tourism layer.

The layer is available in the Sky section of Google Earth in the Education Center folder. The layer is more or less what you can see in our Star Viewer map.

The Google Earth layer does not have quite as many videos as our Star Viewer map because the Hubblecast videos have been removed. Hubblecast also now have their own layer in Google Earth so to have included them in the Virtual Tourism layer would have led to unnecessary replication.

Amazing NASA Video of Comet

I've added this amazing video of a comet being hit by Coronal Mass Ejections from the Sun to the Star Viewer Map:

I've also added a number of videos to Flicks, our new map of Flickr videos.

YouTube Videos in Google Maps

YouTube videos in Google Maps. Who would have thunk it!

Google have added videos to the info window in Google Maps that appears when you click on a listing. This means that businesses can upload a video to YouTube of their premises and the video should appear on Google Maps when someone searches for it.

Search results for non businesses, e.g. the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco does not seem to return videos. Luckily you can use Virtual Tourism instead.

Try some of the links on the left. Or to see the Golden Gate Bridge click here.

Via: Google LatLong: YouTube videos in Google Maps


Last week Flickr started hosting videos. Flickr's video player is far more attractive than YouTube's and the videos that have been uploaded so far are of a far higher quality than the shaky phone shot clips that proliferate on Youtube.

As this site is all about video mapping it didn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to realise we needed a map of these videos. So here is our latest map - Flicks. Flicks uses the geotags associated with the Flickr videos to embed them on a Google Map at the location where they were shot.

US Masters Maps

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon coming up with a map of the Augusta course, which is being used for the US Masters.

Augusta Course Map

The map gives a description of each of the holes on the course. Twenty minutes after finishing the map I came across this Virtual Earth map of Augusta. I have to admit Virtual Earth's 'bird's eye view' suits this kind of map far better than the satellite view available in Google Earth.

Palmyra, Syria

Palmyra was in ancient times an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 120 km southwest of the Euphrates. It has long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented reference to the city by its pre-Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur, is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari.

Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor and there is a small newer settlement next to the ruins of the same name. The Palmyrenes constructed a series of large-scale monuments containing funerary art such as limestone slabs with human busts representing the deceased.

View a video of Palmyra on Google Maps

The Guardian Covers Street View

The Guardian newspaper has an article on Google Street View today. In the article there are hints that Street View will be coming to London,

"it (Google) told the Guardian it will be focusing on "major metropolitan areas" and that it will "leave it to the imagination" whether London will be one of them."

The Guardian rehashes the old privacy concerns in the article. It also claims that Street View costs between $125 and $700 per mile of video footage - which I think is probably an over-estimation.

Wat Phou, Laos

Wat Phou in Laos is one of the areas that have been given improved satellite imagery on Google Earth. The new satellite imagery should be extended to Google Maps this week. In anticipation of the update we bring you a video map of the temple.

Wat Phou (Vat Phu) is a ruined Khmer temple complex in southern Laos. It is located at the base of mount Phu Kao, some 6 km from the Mekong river in Champassak province. There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century, but the surviving structures date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The temple has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a linga was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship, which it remains today.

View a video of Wat Phou on Google Maps

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London in the Spring

This is the scene I woke up to this morning. There's nothing like waking up to a world of snow to make you feel like a child again.

Burning Car

Street View Fun discovered this street view. It is one of the most dramatic yet.

Boring Couple Sue Google

A husband and wife, wonderfully called the Borings, are suing Google for invasion of privacy because street view includes their house. The couple are asking for $25,000 and the destruction of all images. Mr and Mrs Boring claim the pictures were taken from their drive(wouldn't they have a better case for trespass?).

That didn't take long - the the offending images have now been removed.


South Bank Walk

Tower Bridge
I've finally added another video to the South Bank Walk. I've been waiting for a number of weeks for a break in the bleak London weather. Finally today it seemed as if spring might have finally arrived so I headed down to Tower Bridge and shot some footage.

So grab your mouse and take a virtual walk along London's South Bank.


The Three Gorges Dam, China

In celebration of Google's latest image update to Google Earth we have added a video map of the Three Gorges Dam in China. Google normally take about a week before they port over Google Earth updates to Google Maps, so the satellite imagery will be a little hazy on this one until the new imagery appears.

The Three Gorges Dam is a huge engineering feat. It is in fact the biggest engineering project that has been undertaken in China since the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. When the dam is fully operational in 2011 it will be the largest hydro-electric power station in the world by capacity

View a video of the Three Gorges Dam on Google Maps

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Google LatLong: Where in the world is...

Google have announced the latest image update for Google Earth (possibly their only announcement today that wasn't an April Fool) As is their custom they have released a number of clues as to the areas updated.

Here is a kml of the answers so far.

1) The fans of 'Sweet Lou' get to see his three cities updated.

Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA

2) This town has the longest railway station name in the UK.

Everyone in the UK knows this one, even if they can't pronounce it:


3) Sir Rutherford Alcock was the first foreigner to climb this mountain in 1860:

This is the archetypal mountain:

Mount Fuji

4) This major U.S. city was granted "town" status on February 2, 1856.

Dallas, Texas was awarded 'city' status on this date.

5) A major tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city is also home to one of the richest silver mines in the world.

Potosí, Bolivia Guanajuato, Mexico

6) Founded in 1514, this town was the departure point for the Francisco Hernandez de Cordova (1517) and Cortez (1518) expeditions.

Santiago de Cuba Trinidad, Cuba

7) With over 100 buildings, including a bowling alley, this site is home to the largest community on its continent:

Antarctica somewhere - I'd guess McMurdo

8) With tales of great treasure, a German geologist led an expedition up the face of this very large mountain in 1883.

Cerro Aconcagua

9) On the verge of being devoured by the Sahara, this town, which was once a center of learning, is a Moorish architectural jewel.

Morocco Chinguetti, Mauritania

10) Now visible in Google Earth, this enormous dam will not be fully functional until 2011:

Could be the Vaitarna Dam near Bombay Of course it is the Three Gorges Dam in China.

The Google Earth blog has identified a few other area which have had image updates as well
  • London, Ontario
  • Dayton, OH
  • Seattle, WA
  • Vancouver and Vancouver Island
  • Preston County, WV
  • Parts of Estonia
  • Parts of Moldova
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • New South Wales and Western Australia
  • Southwest Pennsylvania
Where a town / city has been mentioned I have added it to the kml.

Google LatLong: Where in the world is...