Archive for May, 2007

Martian System in Google Earth

May 31st, 2007 1 comment

Google Mars ?Phobos in Google Earth

Google Earth hack to display Mars’ two satellites, Phobos and Deimos. Same idea as my ‘Google Saturn’ file where I create a supersized model and encase the GE globe. I’ve also added some options to view the entire Martian system, including Mars.

The models are based on shape files created by Phil J Stooke, which I parsed over to Collada format and textured with a couple of real cylindrical maps. Considering how small theses bodies are – 20km and 5km in diameter -Nasa’s imagery is surprisingly detailed. Phobos, in particular, showing a few battle scars!

The file includes Placemarks plus basic data for all named geological features, taken from the USGS website. Many of these names are taken from the book Gulliver’s Travels. In which the author, Jonathan Swift ‘predicts’ Mars has two moons, 150 years before they were actually discovered.

Mars, Phobos and Deimos

  • Use the options under ‘Places’ to switch between the 3D models of Phobos, Deimos and 3 differently scaled versions of the Martian system.
  • It can be tricky to find the two moons in the exact scale version (the 3rd option). I suggest double-clicking on the ‘Martian System (to scale)‘ option to change the Google Earth camera position, then zoom in gradually

Google Saturn
Jupiter Timelapse Animation


Bouncing Google Earth

May 30th, 2007 No comments

Bouncing Google Earth ModelOK, this is a slightly surreal one: A bouncing Google Earth globe in Google Earth, animated using KML’s timestamp feature.

My idea behind it was to see what an animated model with a shadow would look like in Google Earth. Spheres have nice simple shadows, so I thought why not use a mini globe.

To create the textured globe model:

  • I took Screenshots from Google Maps
  • Combined these to make a global map
  • Re-projected this image from Mercator to Plate Carree
  • wrapped the resulting image around a model sphere created in Blender

The shadow is a screenshot (of the model shadow) from SketchUp, used as a semi-transparent ground overlay. 

Bouncing Google Earth

  • Click on the time control options (the white clock face)
  • Set the repeat mode to bounce
  • Animation speed to about half way or higher
  • Click the play button

Google Earth Bounce Setting


Or… check out this video by

Vienna Ferris Wheel Animation
London Eye Animation
Model Airplane Animation


London Eye, Millennium Wheel Animation

May 29th, 2007 8 comments

4D London Eye in Google EarthAnimated SketchUp model of the London Eye observation wheel for Google Earth.  Using GE’s time animation feature to make the wheel rotate.

At 135m high this was for several years the largest wheel in the world.  (The Star of Nanking ,China holds the current record at 150m.)  One of the more distinctive features of the London Eye is that the support structure is attached to the ground on just one side, with the entire wheel suspended over the River Thames.

In real life, one revolution takes half an hour, meaning it turns slowly enough that it doesn’t need to stop to allow passengers on and off.   In this animation, at Google Earth’s slowest setting, the wheel revolves at about twice that speed.

London Eye Animation

To view the animation:

  • After the file loads look for the time slider control at the top of the screen
  • Access the time control options via the white clock face to the left of this
  • Set the repeat mode to ‘wrap’
  • Ensure that ‘clamp beginning of time window’ is off
  • Click OK
  • Hit the play button (the triangular right arrow)
  • If need be, the speed can be varied via the time control options
  • GE takes a little while to load in all the separate parts of the animation, resulting in flickering for a few cycles

The scene in Google Earth looked a little messy with the 3d model plonked on top of the massive aerial image of the London Eye,  so I’ve used a Photoshopped image overlay (included in the file) to clean this up.  This can be toggled off.

Below is a flythrough video of this animation, using the Space Navigator, put together by Frank Taylor at

Vienna Ferris Wheel Animation
Ferris Wheel Construction Animation
Spirograph Wheel Animation


Population Density, England 1891-1991

May 29th, 2007 2 comments

England Population Density, viewed in Google EarthA Google Earth time animation visualizing the change in England’s population from 27 million in 1891 to 48 million in 1991. The file uses extruded polygons, with population density proportional to height.

Data is based on the UK national census results, taken ten year intervals. Figures for 1941 are estimates, because of World War II.

The source data is calibrated for England’s 1991 administrative boundaries – the divisions I’ve used in this timeline.  These are slightly different from current county borders.

To view the animation, simply click the play button – it will take at a least one run through to get up to speed.

View the animation

Source: National Statistics website:
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO


Model Airplane Construction Animation

May 28th, 2007 1 comment

Animated Lego Model in Google EarthLego Animation with Google Earth

Google Earth construction timeline of a toy brick, model airplane.

Similar idea to the Ferris Wheel Construction Animation:

  • Modelled with Leocad
  • Exported to SketchUp
  • From there exported to collada (kmz) brick by brick
  • Put back together in Google Earth using KML’s timespan element

To view:

  • Move the time slider to the right to allow all GE to load in all parts of the model. Then Move it to the left
  • Click play on the time control

Download the animation