Google Earth and Google maps Edward Frank
August 17, 2009


I want to recommend that each of you download Google Earth.  The current version is 5.0.  Be sure to uncheck the Google Chrome Web Browser Download when you get Google Earth.  I first downloaded a copy of the program several years ago. My computer system at the time barely met the minimum requirements to run the program.  I had the option to abort the download or choose the option that read "I feel lucky" which let me download the file anyway.  For most people today, unless your computer is from the dark ages you likely can run the program.  The program allows you to view air photos of areas of the earth.  Many websites let you do that.  The difference is that you can annotate the maps you see with your own information.  You can mark locations by GPS coordinates (say of the big tree you just measured).  You can add text comments, add photos, video clips, or even make a virtual movie of your hike.

Another web based application you can use is Google Maps  It can import .kmz files generated by Google Earth and allow you to annotate the points with pop-up windows.  

Together these programs give you a great way to share your field trips with other members of ENTS.  You can mark your hiking paths, the GPS locations of the trees you measure, photos you have taken, and other information in a format that is easy to share.

Ed Frank

Google Earth

Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.  Operating Systems supported:  Window 2000, XP, and Vista, Mac OS X, iPhone OS, and Linux


Google Earth displays satellite images of varying resolution of the Earth's surface, allowing users to visually see things like cities and houses looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle, with perspective (see also bird's eye view). The degree of resolution available is based somewhat on the points of interest and popularity, but most land (except for some islands) is covered in at least 15 meters of resolution. Google Earth allows users to search for addresses for some countries, enter coordinates, or simply use the mouse to browse to a location.

For large parts of the surface of the Earth only 2D images are available, from almost vertical photography. Viewing this from an oblique angle, there is perspective in the sense that objects which are horizontally far away are seen smaller, but of course it is like viewing a large photograph, not quite like a 3D view.

For other parts of the surface of the Earth 3D images of terrain and buildings are available. Google Earth uses digital elevation model (DEM) data collected by NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM This means one can view the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest in three dimensions, instead of 2D like other areas. Since November 2006, the 3D views of many mountains, including Mount Everest, have been improved by the use of supplementary DEM data to fill the gaps in SRTM coverage.

Many people use the applications to add their own data, making them available through various sources, such as the Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) or blogs.  Google Earth is able to show all kinds of images overlaid on the surface of the earth and is also a Web Map Service client. Google Earth supports managing three-dimensional Geospatial data through Keyhole Markup Language (KML).

System Requirements for Google Earth

To use Google Earth on a Windows PC, you must have at least the following:

         Operating System: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista
          CPU: 500Mhz, Pentium 3
         System Memory (RAM): 256MB minimum, 512MB recommended
         Hard Disk: 400MB free space
         Network Speed: 128 Kbits/sec
         Graphics Card: 3D-capable with 16MB of VRAM
         Screen: 1024x768, "16-bit High Color" screen
         DirectX 9 (to run in Direct X mode)
         For better performance, see Recommended Configuration.

To use Google Earth on a Mac, you must have at least the following:

         Operating System: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
         CPU: G4 CPU, 1GHz or faster
         System Memory (RAM): 256MB minimum, 512MB recommended
         Hard Disk: 400MB free space
         Network Speed: 128 Kbits/sec
         Graphics Card: 3D-capable with 32MB of VRAM
         Screen: 1024x768, "Thousands of Colors"
         For better performance, see Recommended Configuration

Regarding Linux, Google Earth has been tested on Ubuntu version 6.06, but certainly works on others. Hardware requirements include:

         CPU: 500Mhz, Pentium 3
         System Memory (RAM): 256MB RAM
         Hard Disk: 500MB free space
         Network Speed: 128 Kbits/sec
         Graphics Card: 3D-capable with 16MB of VRAM
         Screen: 1024x768, "16-bit High Color" screen"

Please make sure your system has properly-configured OpenGL drivers. If Google Earth appears to be slow and unresponsive, it is likely that your system needs different video drivers.

Google Earth Users Guide

     Use the following topics to learn Google Earth basics - navigating the globe, searching, printing, and more:

               Getting to know Google Earth
               New features in version 5.0
               Adding content
               Navigating in Google Earth
               Finding places and directions
               Marking places on the earth
               Showing or hiding points of interest
               Tilting and viewing hilly terrain
               Sight seeing

     For other topics in this documentation, see the table of contents or check out these important topics:

               Making movies with Google Earth
               Using layers
               Using places
               Managing search results
               Measuring distances and areas
               Drawing paths and polygons
               Using image overlays
               Using GPS devices with Google Earth

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