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Exploring the Sky, Moon and Mars with Google Earth

Updated on November 29, 2012

If you're old enough, at least a baby boomer, then perhaps you remember when we landed on the moon in 1969. I can't say that I remember it, but I remember being aware of it during that time, if that makes sense. I was six years old and the moon really didn't hold much interest for me. I do remember my daddy buying a thin photo book full of the photos of the moon landing, in fact, I have that book tucked away in a box in a closet somewhere.

The skies above central Texas allow for a lot of star-gazing. My daddy would point out various constellations, although I rarely remembered where they were, or what they were called, by the next time we sat out looking at the stars. Lying in the bed of a pickup truck on a blanket or sitting out on the porch always made for good conversation while watching for falling stars.

Interestingly enough, central Texas experienced a meteor in 2009. It was a Sunday, February 19th and I detected a loud rumble. I live near the train tracks so I first suspected a train or a perhaps even a low flying helicopter. The intensity of the rumble grew causing my daughter and I to go to the front door to look out. It no longer sounded like a train. By the time we reached the front door, we were experiencing what I can only describe as the "air shaking". I've never experienced an earthquake, nor do I wish to, but I can imagine the similarity, except the land wasn't shaking, everything else was. Very difficult to describe. Then it stopped. We later learned that it was a meteor. Needless to say, we had plenty of out-of-state visitors in the area offering to pay top dollar for pieces found on land in the area. Some locals made some decent money off the event according to local newspaper accounts.

Google Earth has released some new features that I thought you might enjoy on the subject of the moon, the sky and even Mars.

Moon in Google Earth

Moon in Google Earth was developed by joint effort of NASA Ames Research and JAXA. The official Google Earth Blog indicates that Moon in Google Earth was just released July 20, 2009 at the Newseum in Washington D.C. for the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon.

With Moon in Google Earth you can

  • Take tours of landing sites, narrated by Apollo astronauts
  • View 3D models of landed spacecraft
  • Zoom into 360-degree photos to see astronauts' footprints
  • Watch rare TV footage of the Apollo missions

Google Mars

There are three types of data found in Google Mars. They are: elevation, visible and infrared. You can learn more about the images on the JMARS data distribution page. You can learn more about Mars in general at NASA Mars Missions home page.

Google Sky

Watch the video with first American female astronaut in space, Sally Ride as she and a Google staffer Greg demonstrate how Google Sky works on Google Earth.

The Moon 2009
The Moon 2009

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