Friday, 23 January 2009

It's been nearly a fortnight...

I have a tongue in cheek post planned. Soon, I promise. Also, I've spent a lot of this evening looking at and around Chernobyl. Interesting to see how nature is reclaiming the nearby town of Pripyat, 20 odd years after the reactor burned.

You can see a series of images, here

and read an account of visiting the area, here

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Well now...

I'd found all the airbases yesterday because I had been looking for a news location. A wind turbine had been damaged in a place called Conisholme, in Lincolnshire, and all sorts of theories about UFOs and thrown off ice had been mooted.

When I typed Conisholme into GE, it drew a blank.

Yet today, despite hovering over an Alaskan island, the same search took me straight to the place.

Go figure...

I tried upgrading to firefox 3 this evening too, and the problems I had last time weren't apparent so I'm keeping it.

Somehow, all my bookmarks are back. They disappeared after I reverted back to Firefox 2 when FF3 hadn't worked properly for me. This is a good thing from the point of view of this blog, because I now have a link to a site full of old GE screenshots that I wanted to compare things with.


Anyway... Here's the windfarm at Conisholme in it's undamaged form...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Airbases everywhere!

Put your google earth window to about 20,000 feet (that's about 6-7,000 metres) above Eastern England - pretty much anywhere over Eastern England (Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, etc) and there's a good chance that your window will contain an RAF base. Nearly all of them follow a similar desing of two runways, offset about by 70 degrees to each other, with a third, rougher strip of tarmac running across them to form a sort of A-Frame. There used to be even more, and the landscape is dotted with old airfields that are now given over to agriculture, vehicle storage, light industry or have become small civilian aerodromes. Places like RAF Harrington, RAF Leicester East, RAF North Pickenham and RAF Bottesford.

Most of this is a legacy of the Second World War. No point building lots of airbases in Cumbria and Gwynedd when the threat came from the East and South. The rationale for their existance continued into the 1950's and beyond, when the Red Menace stood poised to turn Grantham into a glowing cinder.

These days, Tornadoes, Spitfires and Vulcans aren't much use against people with bombs in rucksacks, and some of these bases are being allowed to fade into history.

Much as I like flying and aeroplanes and stuff, I can't help thinking this is not entirely a bad thing.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Google Earth Vs the Real World

If you're driving along the A55 in North Wales, a mile or so after passing Holywell, the road curves left and starts to descend through a cutting. As you travel along this stretch of road, the view opens out into an extraordinarily beautiful expanding vista that takes in the Vale of Clywyd and the mountains of Snowdonia beyond.

We drove this way a few weeks ago when we went to Llandudno, and took the opportunity to take some pictures of the view.

This gave me the opportunity to find the same viewpoint on GE, and do a bit of comparing and contrasting.

Firstly, here's what you see on Google Earth...

And here's what you see through the lens of a camera while driving along the real road from roughly the same point...

First thing to note of course is that GE generally avoids adding man made features to its altitude matrix, so as far as it's concerned, the road goes over the top, and not through a groove that people cut into the surface of the planet. Secondly, the scale of distant objects, in this case the Snowdonian mountains, isn't perfect. In real life there is a smooth, analogue recession fading into distance. In GE it pops a small but perfectly clear feature into the distance. Obviously, the road in the first image is in extreme close-up by GE standards, and so is rather pixellated. I've noticed that the resolution available varies from place to place. It's not just the difference between satellite and aerial photography. One way of seeing this is to look at the point at which cars become pixellated. I will be doing a seperate post about this soon.