Learn how you can use this powerful free tool to explore shipwrecks, follow
weather patterns in real time, watch wild animals in Africa, explore ancient
Rome, and ;y over your neighborhood in a jet aircra;.
realism or go for a ;at single color for
•;Ocean: Traditional atlases treat oceans
as empty space, but Google Earth gives
you many options for exploring the
oceans. Turn on the Shipwrecks button
to see the locations and stories behind
many shipwrecks. Ocean Expeditions
takes you on a tour of several interesting expeditions. For example, one expedition that starts in Guam takes you on
a tour of undersea volcanoes, some with
videos! Animal tracking lets you select
an animal such as a shark or a whale
and see in ;rst-person view where that
animal has been swimming!
•;Weather: ;e Weather tab is equally
fascinating. Turn on Clouds to see major cloud formations in close to real
time. You can also view radar data and
view current temperature and conditions anywhere in the world.
•;Gallery: ;is menu features some exceptional content. Especially noteworthy is the Ancient Rome 3D Gallery,
which allows you to see what Rome
looked like. National Geographic has
provided several interesting options,
but our favorite is the live WildCams.
;is feature allows you to view live
webcams of animal habitats all over
the world. Once we watched elephants
come to a watering hole in Botswana
while we ate our breakfast. NASA has
some very nice imagery, and Wikiloc
shows interesting trails. Note that
content comes from a wide variety of
sources, so as always, you should monitor your kids as they use this content.
•;More: If you’re not overwhelmed yet,
there are even more layers available
in the (cleverly named) More section.
Among the most interesting options
here are Places/Categories, which allows you to place a marker on co;ee
shops and ATMs, and the Transportation section, which allows you to mark
airports and rail lines.
Changing Space and Time
A program as comprehensive as Google
Earth isn’t limited by silly things like
space and time. ;ere are many ways to
modify when and where you’re looking.
For example, you can choose Histori-
cal Imagery from the View menu to get
a slider to pick a time span. For some
parts of the earth, you’ll see aerial pho-
tos for the last ;;een years or so. In a
few places (like Rome) you can go back
thousands of years.
I Believe I Can Fly
One of my favorite features of Google
Earth is a built-in ;ight simulator! Navigate to any location on the planet and
choose Enter Flight Simulator from the
Tools menu. You’ll be given a choice
between two aircra;: a jet ;ghter and a
more manageable prop plane. If you’re a
National Geographic has provided several interesting options, including articles
and live webcams of animal habitats all over the world.
more celestial adventures, go to the Explore menu under the View menu. You
can explore the sky, the moon, and Mars!
Sky View gives you a view of the constellations. You can zoom in on a particular
area of space for much more detail. ;e
images are absolutely astounding.
Sky has its own set of layers, which allows you to turn on constellations within
the solar system. ;e Welcome to Sky
tour is worth doing if you have any interest in astronomy.
beginner, you’ll have better luck with the
Before you get started, click on the
Help button that comes with the ;ight
simulator pop-up window. ;is describes the keyboard commands you’ll
use to control the plane. When the ;ight
simulation begins, you’ll see a heads-up
display that indicates the aircra;’s speed
and direction. You can use a joystick or
keyboard to ;y the plane, but I think the
mouse control is probably the easiest.