Last month, the Las Vegas Sun reported on an unusual study in which researchers attempted to map the distribution of the seven deadly sins. Researchers primarily looked at Nevada, which for some unexplained reason is associated with sin, but the maps they put together for the U.S. as a whole are far more interesting, particularly the maps showing standard deviations from the mean. They arrived at these maps by finding a statistical stand-in for each sin: envy is represented by thefts, wrath by violent crime, lust by the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, gluttony by the number of fast food restaurants per capita, and so on, with pride as the aggregate of the other six. The Sun calls it “a precision party trick — rigorous mapping of ridiculous data.” More fun than useful. Via Catholicgauze.
Farhad Hakimzadeh, who pled guilty to stealing maps, illustrations and other pages from rare books in the British and Oxford University libraries and was sentenced to two years in prison for it, has had his sentenced cut in half by the Appeal Court. He’ll be out in less than three months. Via MapHist.
Mike Parker’s new book, Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge and the Ordnance Survey, is out today; from the Daily Mail’s account of it, it sounds like eccentric good fun: “Mike Parker — who spent his teenage years shoplifting Ordnance Survey maps from a Midlands educational bookshop in Worcester — brings a welcome tincture of outlaw glamour to his subject. … It ranges through the history of the Ordnance Survey; the disappointing absence of the phrase ‘here be dragons’ from the medieval Mappa Mundi; the peculiarities of the Irish postcode system (absence of same, primarily); the origins of the London A-Z; the places you’d encounter those born ‘cuddywifted’; the mystical alignments of Milton Keynes; and the 1980s touring schedule of Echo and the Bunnymen.”
- Buy Map Addict at Amazon.com
Phyllis Pearsall’s famous 1936 map of London is available again. The company she founded, A to Z Maps, has published a fascimile reproduction of her map, coloured to simulate aging (the original was black ink on white paper, but would not look that way now after 73 years). They’ve also produced an online version of a portion of that map that is decidedly retro: a sepia-toned paper map with all the controls you’d expect from an online map. Via Mapperz.
Another animated map showing U.S. job losses; this one shows net job gains and losses by metropolitan area over the previous 12 months, with a timeline — note the big red circle over New Orleans after Katrina. Via YahooGeo.
New Scientist: “David Crandall and colleagues at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, analysed the data attached to 35 million photographs uploaded to the Flickr website to create accurate global and city maps and identify popular snapping sites.” Here’s a gallery; to reiterate, the maps are generated purely from the positions of geotagged photos. Here’s the research paper (PDF). Via MetaFilter and YahooGeo.
Mary Spence may be a familiar name to many thanks to her complaint about Internet mapping at last year’s Royal Geographical Society conference (and the dust it kicked up online), but the past president of the British Cartographic Society is no mean cartographer herself: the Express and Star profiles Mary Spence, mapmaker.
University of Waterloo psychologist Colin Ellard’s new book, Where Am I? Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall, was released in Canada this month. Last Friday’s Globe and Mail had an interview with Dr. Ellard as well as a review of the book. It sounds quite interesting: a book about how human beings and animals navigate, and how we get disoriented (i.e., lost). Under a different title, You Are Here, the book will be released in the United States in July. Thanks to Richard Akerman for the tip.
Google’s Street View cars are combing the streets of Ottawa; this rather unbalanced piece by Robert Sibley in today’s Ottawa Citizen comes across as a jeremiad about the state of privacy in modern life without actually stopping to question whether the view from a public street is, in any reasonable or legal sense, private (of course it isn’t, but it’s much more fun to carry on about privacy and surveillance than deal with pesky facts) or whether there are any benefits from Street View to weigh against the privacy implications. I’ve seen such reporting elsewhere; not here. Via Richard.
For location services like Google Latitude to succeed, Tom Arran argues in GPS Business News, their users need to be able to trust them; for that to happen, adequate safeguards need to be in place. He points to four emerging methods: opt-in, adjustable
accuracy (i.e., being able to say I’m in New York, but not necessarily on which block), a kill switch in case the phone goes missing, and information security. Via YahooGeo.
The ICO’s statement says there is no law against taking pictures of people in the street as long as the photographer is not harassing people. Too right — despite the efforts of celebrities, police officers and over-zealous officialdom to curtail this right. It’s a right that’s important to press freedom as well as the general principle of allowing citizens to do what they like in a public place so long as it harms nobody else. …
And the liberty to walk in a public space without revealing our name or profession is the same liberty that allows Google to photograph it and paste the results up on our web.
Via Ed Parsons.
Maps produced for The Long War Journal show the extent of the Taliban’s influence and control in northwestern Pakistan. Only the first map, shown in this article, contains a legend explaining what the colours represent; subsequent maps that show the Taliban’s rapid advance towards Islamabad in this article lack that legend. The maps, which were produced 10 days apart (April 14 and 24 — this says something about how fast the situation is developing) are by Bill Raymond. Thanks to Andy Anderson for the links.
Update, April 27: Long War Journal editor Bill Roggio reports that they’ve added the legend to the two subsequent maps.
Randy Plemel, who we last saw working on accessible transit maps, writes to let us know about the latest episode of his Smogr Alert podcast, in which he interviews Charles Graves, the author of The Genealogy of Cities (see previous entry). This is the first of two parts, but this is the part that deals with the book.
- Buy The Genealogy of Cities at Amazon.com
With all the nonsense going on about Texas seceding from the U.S. — remind me again how well that worked out the last time? — one of the things that has also been noticed in the hullaballooery is that Texas apparently has the right to divide itself into five states. FiveThirtyEight envisions a Texas divided into five states, with an eye on the impact it would have on U.S. elections. Via Cartophilia.
The UK’s Information Commissioner has ruled that the risk of privacy invasion by Google Street View is not enough to warrant removing the service, calling such a move “disproportionate.”
Stefan compares the British reaction to how he expects Swedes to react to the service (Google’s cars have been spotted in Stockholm), says a little bit about the respective cultures, and provides a bit of perspective to the overall harrumphitude.
At the end of last month, Canadian backbench MP Pierre Poilievre went so far as to request the Google CEO’s appearance at a parliamentary committee to address the privacy concerns about Street View. Colby Cosh takes a skeptical view of this (to say the least); Poilievre clarifies his position.
Buried in the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of job cuts at Yahoo is the suggestion that Yahoo may farm out its maps to another company, which is generating a certain amount of reaction in the map blogosphere: All Points Blog, GeoWebGuru.
Here’s the actual quote from the story: “Yahoo Maps may be outsourced to another company, analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research said in a recent research note.” Now I’ve followed the tech industry enough to take an analyst’s speculation with more than a few grains of salt — analysts routinely predict that Apple, for example, will release some product or other not because they have any intelligence that says that they will, but because it makes logical sense (to them) that they will.
Having said that, when I read Tyler Bell’s recent interviews, it’s hard to see any aspects of Yahoo’s geotechnology strategy that absolutely requires them to own an in-house mapping solution. I suppose Fire Eagle and Flickr could get by with someone else’s maps.
But on the other other hand, while competing with the likes of Google, MapQuest and Microsoft cannot be easy or inexpensive for the beleaguered Yahoo, my preference would be to have as much competition in this space as possible. Yahoo’s got a lot of potential synergies there.
Truth be told, I’d never heard of the name “GIS Alley” before today, but it refers to the large group of geospatial companies located in and around Fort Collins, Colorado. Here’s a puff piece in the Fort Collins Coloradoan by the director of the Rocky Mountain Geospatial Cluster, which uses the term self-referentially.
Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion projection projects the globe onto an icosahedron (a 20-sided polyhedron) and unfolds it. Take the same principle, but project the globe onto a polyhedron of immense complexity, with a lot more sides, and you get a myriahedral projection, the subject of a recent research paper (PDF) in The Cartographic Journal by Jarke J. van Wijk. The following video gives some examples of myriahedral projections, some of which will make your head explode:
We are self-organized in true bar-camp style. Bring your projects, work and ideas to get feedback from a group of the worlds most passionate social cartographers. Topics are whatever you want them to be. Over the last two years we’ve seen presentations ranging from emergency crisis response … to psycho-geography to visualization, to mobile mapping to re-factoring urban landscapes.
The expectation is simply that you participate. It’s your event and we’ll all get out of it what you put into it. As usual the event is zero dollars to enter — we will be seeking sponsorship to make yummy food and other consumables appear.
It’s not that the Four Corners marker is “about 2.5 miles west of where it should be,” as the Deseret News puts it, it’s that it’s about two and a half miles west of where it should have been. Important distinction. Surveyors were aiming for 37° N 100° W when they placed the first marker in 1868; and modern-day observers with GPS receivers can easily spot the discrepancy. Doesn’t mean the borders are going to be redrawn. There are plenty of surveying errors along the U.S.-Canada border that are now accepted as fact, for example.
The Bartholomew Archive at the National Library of Scotland contains the business records, publications, working maps and printing plates of John Bartholomew & Son Ltd., the Edinburgh mapmaking firm. The Archive is still a work in progress: the Library is still receiving papers from the family of John Bartholomew, who died last year. The Bartholomew Archive blog is working its way through the collection. Via Collins Maps Blog.
The Geography of Buzz, a project of Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab, “set out to analyze the unique spatial and social dynamics that are created by the arts and entertainment industries in New York City and Los Angeles.” In layman’s terms, they were trying to map the intangible “buzz” from celebrity-driven arts-and-entertainment events. The researchers did so by categorizing and geotagging more than 300,000 photos from the Getty Images database that were catalogued as arts and entertainment, from 6,000 events in New York and Los Angeles. The locations of these events served as a “proxy” for buzz measurement. Buzz, the researchers discovered, is not evenly distributed (here’s a PDF of the researchers’ working paper). “The buzziest areas in New York, it finds, are around Lincoln and Rockefeller Centers, and down Broadway from Times Square into SoHo,” says the New York Times. “In Los Angeles the cool stuff happens in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, along the Sunset Strip, not in trendy Silver Lake or Echo Park.”
Richard Florida’s singles map tracked surpluses of single men and women by U.S. metropolitan area; in response, Jonathan Soma’s singles map adds a slider to show where the surpluses are by age group, on the assumption that age sort of matters when you’re single. Via Platial News and Neogeography.
Previously: The Singles Map.
It’s not the first time State has profiled the office; here’s an earlier look from the July/August 1999 issue.
Ryan has a couple of posts on the difference between orthophotography — geometrically corrected aerial photography — and “true” orthophotography; true orthophotos “add the dimension of correcting for the distortion of buildings. Or, simply stated, true orthophotos do not show building lean.” Significant in urban areas rich in skyscrapers, where the building (or its shadow) can obstruct the view of at least part of the surrounding area. Producing true orthophotos requires tighter overlap in the stereo imagery taken or special processing techniques. See Eastern Topographics’ page on orthophotography for an example of the former, and Morten’s 2004 master’s thesis on orthophoto generation for an example of the latter. (Both linked from Ryan’s posts above.) True orthophotos are, in fact, mosaics of several images.
Jillian from Wolfram Research writes, “I thought you and your readers would find today’s post in the Wolfram Blog quite fascinating. It’s all about Mathematica’s capabilities for importing and analyzing geographic GPS data. It includes many fascinating examples — elevation profile, distance computation, and mapping.” (Links added.) The post starts hard and gets harder; it’s worth noting, but probably is reserved for people who know how to use Mathematica.
The latest interactive map of unemployment in the United States comes to us from Slate: this one also shows county-by-county job losses, but measures job losses in a slightly different way: for each month selected, it shows the year-over-year job losses for each county (e.g., you select January 2009 and it shows you the job losses since January 2008). Via The Map Scroll.
The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index attempts to measure the competitiveness of each U.S. congressional district by comparing the presidential vote outcomes against the nationwide results for the 2004 and 2008 U.S. presidential votes. “A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 means the district performed four points more Republican than the national average. If a district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction, we assign it a score of EVEN.” Of 435 districts, 222 — more than half — are Democratic or Republican by more than 10 points;. Even so, this is only a reflection of the presidential vote; a strongly Republican district in this sense may have a Democratic representative, and vice-versa. Via The Electoral Map.
In an article posted on the ABAA’s Web site, Elisabeth Burdon of oldimprints.com argues that MacDonald Gill, the artist responsible for the 1913 Wonderground Map of London Town, had a “profound” influence on later pictorial mapmaking. “Not only did Gill’s map spawn a clearly identifiable genre that was to appear in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Australia in the 1920s and 1930s, it marked a resurgence of decorative mapmaking that lasted throughout the century and beyond. In honoring Gill’s creation of the prototype, it seems appropriate to use the term ‘wonder map’ in discussing this novel genre,” she writes. Read the article, see this larger scan of the map and feel a little wonder at this piece of whimsy. Via MapHist.
I’ve finally been doing some work on the directory. This morning, I got caught up on the year-long (!) backlog of new blogs, and pruned those blogs that have either gone dark or that haven’t posted in more than six months. I also redesigned it a bit; for one thing, I began adding a bit of descriptive material, usually stolen from the about page of the linked site. It’s going to take me a while to add text to every listing, so if your site is already listed on the directory and you have some preferred descriptive text to use, send it to me and I’ll update the listing.
Contact me as well if you have a site that fits in one of the directory’s categories (e.g., a map blog, a cartographic association, a geospatial-related online community) and you’d like to have it listed.
As a preview of his talk at next month’s Where 2.0 conference, Yahoo’s Geo Technologies lead Tyler Bell sits down for a long interview with O’Reilly Media’s James Turner, in which they discuss Yahoo’s behind-the-scenes geo technologies (e.g., geotagging on Flickr, Fire Eagle, GeoPlanet) before turning to the topic of Dr. Bell’s upcoming presentation, Open Location. “Open Location is the name of our initiative here at Yahoo to expose new places and name places around the world. Make those accessible off the Yahoo network. Accept new places from our users. Obviously, a small development team cannot capture the world’s geography as it is called by the world’s people in its entirety. So we are looking to our users to contribute to this.”
Previously: Tyler Bell Interview.
David Mumford writes to point to Roger Pountain’s curious story of a map his son created on the unfinished wall of their kitchen:
I had found my oldest son Alistair (25) up a ladder with a felt-tip marker and a “man at work” look. With no training in cartography but a lifetime’s immersion in family irony, he was rapidly coming up with more and more place names to put the finishing touches to his new map of Unfinishtstan and its neighbouring countries. A chip off the old bloke, I thought, but then I wouldn’t have thought of doing this. I was only able to come up with one idea for a place name, and that wasn’t particularly witty — so I left it to the master. It is all his own work. All the colours are original, inspiring the shapes of the countries and the sea.
This story was posted on the Collins Maps Blog, which I have somehow managed to miss despite its being in operation for nearly a year.
University of Tennessee researchers are collaborating with the National Park Service to map the streams of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Obed Wild and Scenic River, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Their goal is to identify habitat for freshwater mussels and fish, and it involves some pretty unusual technology:
The project uses an innovative underwater video system that takes Global Positioning System (GPS) digital data and stores it continuously on the audio track of the DVD as the kayak floats down river.
Simultaneously, the river’s surface features are recorded using a similar geo-referenced video camera. Images from both video cameras are downloaded into a Geographic Information System (GIS) to produce digital maps that depict the stream in minute detail, above and below the surface.
Watch the short video and see if that doesn’t make it easier to understand.
The third edition of The Tobacco Atlas was published by the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society last month; the paper version is complemented by the online Tobacco Atlas, which presents a series of interactive maps of the world showing data on a number of tobacco indicators: smoking rates by gender (much higher for men than for women), how much cigarettes are taxed, how much of the market is taken up by contraband cigarettes (above), and more. (Look for the drop-down menu at top left to switch maps; the interface can be subtle.) Via Matt.
Previously: Health Maps Roundup.
Egypt has lifted the ban on importing GPS receivers; the country’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority is now allowing the importation of “cars equipped with GPS and navigation programs … GPS-enabled mobile phones, computers and other devices with civilian applications provided that NTRA authorizes the type of machines based on its criteria and procedures.” Via All Points Blog.
Previously: GPS and the Law.
Google Maps surpassed MapQuest over the weekend in terms of monthly visitors according to Hitwise numbers; a couple of other reports had Google beating MapQuest back in January. I guess it depends on the methodology. Via All Points Blog.
Update: Richard Marsden has a bone to pick with these reports, which he calls “about as useful as the political poll over-analysis in the run up to an election. … Suffice to say MapQuest and Google Maps both have about the same share of the consumer market, and that should be good enough for the rest of us.”
A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica, a fantasy short story by Catherynne M. Valente published in the May 2008 issue of the online science fiction and fantasy magazine Clarkesworld, tells the tale of two rival Argentine cartographers mapping the Antarctic, one of whom is mapping a rather strange version of reality. What makes this story interesting, however, is how it’s told: as a series of lots in an auction. The whole effect is redolent of Borges, which is a good thing if you ask me — but maybe I just think that because it’s set in Argentina. Then again, maybe the fact that it’s set in Argentina is deliberate. A nice piece.
Submissions are now open for the second volume of the Cartography Design Annual, Nick Springer’s compilation of “maps from some of the top cartographers in the world.” I reviewed the first volume last September.
- Buy Cartography Design Annual #1 at Amazon.com
The Toronto Star’s Map of the Week blog discovers several errors in Google Maps’ coverage of Toronto. You may recall that I noticed a bunch of errors in my neck of the woods back in September. The blog entry is soliciting error reports in the comments; “We’ll gather the responses and send them off to Palo Alto,” they say. That seems a little too officious in the traditional-media manner; Google outlines how to submit error reports here. For these kinds of errors, the default seems to be to submit a report to Tele Atlas, who supplied Google with the bollixed map data in the first place.
Previously: Google Switches to Tele Atlas, Errors Proliferate.
Google Earth bloggers are on the move: Stefan Geens (Ogle Earth), lately a resident of Cairo, is relocating to Shanghai; Frank Taylor (Google Earth Blog) is preparing for a five-year trip around the world by sailboat with his wife. Stefan is shifting his focus to “the geopolitical implications of all this neogeography — censorship attempts by governments, citizen activism, humanitarian and disaster relief, science outreach, and of course mainstream media failing to report all this accurately.” Frank has snagged Google as a sponsor and will be using Google Earth throughout the trip; here’s the Web site.
And here I do so little travelling myself — never mind out of the country, I hardly leave the house — that there’s hardly any point to my using Fire Eagle or Latitude. You guys are making me look bad. Or at least sedentary.
“Street View might be pretty amazing now but it’s only going to get more amazing. Even if the technology stays exactly the same — which it won’t, it will only get better — Google Street View will become increasingly gob-smacking as the decades pass,” says Phil Gyford. “Imagine in, say, 2059 looking up a location on Google Maps and being able to dial the view back fifty years to see what that building looked like in 2009. Zoom back and forth in time to see how the place changed as decades flip by. That will be amazing.” Via Kottke.
The Mac isn’t exactly known as the most GIS-friendly platform out there, but Leszek has compiled a list of free, Mac-compatible GIS applications (most of them are cross-platform rather than Mac-only).
Charles Graves writes to tell us about his upcoming book, The Genealogy of Cities, “a compilation of ancient and modern city plans, from 350 BCE to the present, depicting both built and proposed plans. … [I]t is illustrated with more than 500 plans drawn at the same scale, a unique feature of this work. … Also included in this volume is a CD containing nearly 1000 plans that will allow the user to print the urban plans at any scale.” Sounds interesting.
- Buy The Genealogy of Cities at Amazon.com
Previously: CommonCensus Map Project.
USGS maps of last night’s magnitude-6.3 earthquake in central Italy are available: here is the ShakeMap (at right); here is a map and chart showing population exposure; historic seismicity maps place the quake in recent context. Via Making Light.
Update: Google Maps Mania links to a number of mashups compiled by news organizations or that map recent earthquakes around the world.
Times Higher Education reviews The Imperial Map: Cartography and the Mastery of Empire, a collection of essays from the October 2004 iteration of the Nebenzahl Lectures in the History of Cartography edited by James Akerman. “Between them, they have looked at mapping in a range of cultures associated with the rise and maintenance of modern imperialism from the late 17th to the early 20th centuries. The essays all describe instances in which unequal power relationships between communities produced maps that represented imperial subjects for the exclusive benefit of the rulers. Together, the authors show that the picture of imperial mapping is complex, with religious doctrine, scientific exploration, commerce, ethnography, propaganda and administrative practice operating in different ways depending upon the context.” Via MapHist.
- Buy The Imperial Map at Amazon.com
An article in today’s Los Angeles Times uses a geocoding error in the LAPD’s crime map mashup to illustrate the perils of map data error. In the case of the LAPD’s map, crimes at addresses that could not be parsed defaulted to the centre of the city, giving that particular neighbourhood a disproportionately high crime rate. Given the number of mashups and online applications in which “an algorithm tries to translate unruly street addresses, often drawn from handwritten forms, into the precision of decimal degrees,” this article is a cautionary tale. Via CNet, MapHist and Slashdot.
It may surprise you that GPS gets used a lot in amateur astronomy, which in recent years has gotten awfully computerized. Now, you might not think that a technology that locates where you are on Earth has a lot to do with observing the rest of the universe, but it does: GPS satellites provide you with your exact position and the exact time — and this information can go a long way to figuring out where things are in the sky. Astronomers — or rather their computers — use GPS to help them know where to look.
First, let’s look at a relatively new category of educational gadget, the personal planetarium, exemplified by Celestron’s SkyScout (at right) and Meade’s competing mySKY. These battery-operated, handheld devices are used in one of two ways: they identify what you’re pointing them at, and they tell you where a given object is located. (Then they do a multimedia educational song and dance about said object.) They use GPS to figure out where you’re pointing from, and an accelerometer (to determine the angle you’re pointing upwards) and a compass to figure out what you’re pointing to. Date and time, latitude and longitude, direction and altitude angle — that’s all they need.
The scary thing is, it actually works. They’re not telescopes, so they don’t need a high degree of precision. I own a SkyScout, and so long as there isn’t anything large and metallic nearby to futz with the compass, it works quite well: I point it at Betelgeuse and it says it’s Betelgeuse, for example. The compass is the weakest link, enough so that the SkyScout comes with shields for the battery; if I use it too near my car, it gets things wrong.
When it comes to telescopes themselves, GPS has been increasingly incorporated into computerized telescope mounts. A computerized “go-to” mount calculates where everything is in the sky based on the positions of known objects (it asks the user to centre one to three stars or planets in the eyepiece; telescopes require more precision than personal planetariums) as well as the date, time and location of the mount. These last three items are normally added by the user, but they can also be supplied by a GPS, which is both more convenient and more accurate. In some cases, the GPS is an accessory to be plugged into the mount that costs around $150 to $250; in more and more cases, however, the GPS comes built-in.
Meade’s LX90, LX200 (at right) and ETX-LS series have built-in GPS, as does Celestron’s CPC series. Celestron also sells a GPS accessory unit for its telescope mounts that don’t come with built-in GPS, such as the NexStar, Advanced GT and CGE series, but it’s pretty expensive; one alternative is to use an adapter to connect a SkyScout and use its GPS receiver. Orion sells a GPS receiver for its computerized equatorial mounts, as does Sky-Watcher (in Canada) for its (nearly identical) mounts.
Truth be told, some of these telescope/mount combinations and standalone mounts are quite large, whereas GPS is really only useful if your telescope mount is portable; an observatory’s telescope computer really only needs to have its lat/long coordinates entered once. If you observe from a few known locations, it’s probably not worth the expense to get a dedicated GPS for your telescope mount, not if you can simply look up the coordinates online, or use another GPS receiver, and enter them in yourself.
But in small telescope mounts, which could plausibly be moved from place to place, GPS could really be useful; unfortunately, these mounts tend to be pretty price-sensitive. Even so, I’d really like to see it become standard. Most of iOptron’s small telescope mounts come with built-in GPS; I’d like to see a NexStar with standard GPS in the future, for example.
I really shouldn’t be surprised by the number of lunar and star map applications for the iPod and iPhone touch that are aimed at amateur astronomers: I already have to bring a lot of gear out to the field as it is; if I can keep my charts on my iPod touch, rather than having to lug out a couple of star atlases or a laptop running planetarium software (plus, you know, a table), so much the better. Here’s a brief roundup, based on a little digging I’ve done. Note that this isn’t a review, and I haven’t had a chance to play with them yet (most of these apps cost money, you see).
Kari Kulmala has three flavours of Moon Map: a free “Lite” version for binocular observers, a regular 99¢ version for small telescope users, and a “Pro” version for large telescope users that costs $2.99. Each level up uses more detailed maps, but they’re separate apps: the higher versions don’t also include the lower maps. But these apps are meant for observers: if you know what you’re looking at the Moon with, you know which app to get.
Moon Atlas is a much more general application, with more features, such as far side imagery and spaceship landing sites, that are probably not much use for lunar observers; it costs $5.99. Also $5.99, from the same developer, is a similar application for Mars, which will be of even less use at the eyepiece. While having a virtual globe of the Moon or Mars is interesting, it’s not exactly necessary on a portable device except for observing purposes; you’re just not going to see the far side of the Moon or that much detail on Mars, from your backyard telescope.
There are an awful lot of planetarium and star atlas applications out there. Dan Schroeder reviews seven of them, rating each on their usability, features, and fun factor. Two apps that seem to have gotten a fair amount of attention are the $4.99 Star Walk for its accessibility and visual appeal (see TUAW reviews here and here), and the aggressively full-featured (but apparently slow and buggy) Starmap, which costs $11.99 (a new pro version costs $18.99).
From what I can see, Starmap delivers a huge amount of data and features — perhaps too much for the iPhone’s hardware. Indeed, it seems to be trying to do on the iPhone OS platform what heavy-duty planetarium software does on the desktop — the developer is even promising telescope control in a future release. I’m duly impressed, but I think I might opt for a laptop if I need that much firepower in the field.
If you’re interested in buying a globe of a world not the Earth, you have three options available.
Replogle makes a 12-inch globe of the Moon that is touted as being NASA-approved. It rests on a clear plastic base, from which it can be picked up and moved. I bought one a few weeks ago, and it’s not without a few disappointments.
For one thing, there isn’t much contrast between the lunar maria, which are quite dark in real life, and the lighter-coloured lunar highlands, which makes it hard for me to use as a reference when looking at, say, my own photographs of the Moon. Similarly, the crater Tycho, which is crazy prominent through a telescope thanks to its prominent ray system, is hard to find on this globe, which seems absolutely, totally and in all other ways inconceivable to me.
Other nitpicks: the Apollo 11 landing site is labelled, but not other sites, though diamond markers appear to label the sites for Apollo 14 and 15, which if true would be inconsistent. And “Sea of Tranquility” is misspelled. Is my impression that this globe has been in production for a while correct?
Still, if you want a globe of the Moon, this is your best (if not only) option, and, despite my nitpicks, at $50-60 it’s reasonably priced. You’ll probably be able to find it at most map, nature and telescope stores.
As for Mars, Sky and Telescope sells a Martian globe based on imagery from the Viking orbiters. Another collaboration, this time with NASA and the USGS, and resting on a plastic base similar to Replogle’s Moon globe, this 12-inch globe is both more colourful and, at $100, more expensive.
There was also a topography globe of Mars, based on colour shaded relief imagery from the Mars Global Surveyor (the same used in the elevation layer of Google Mars), but it appears to have been discontinued.
Finally, the strangest globe has to be Sky and Telescope’s globe of Venus. Similar in dimensions, base and cost to the Mars globe, it looks absolutely alien. It’s a globe of a world we never see, thanks to Venus’s thick clouds, and it’s a false-colour globe, using radar data from the Magellan mission (with gaps filled by data from the Soviet Venera 15 and 16 probes as well as Earth-based radar).
No globes are available for sale for any other planets or moons in our solar system, and I don’t expect that to change in the near future. Mercury is still being mapped, there’s no point in mapping gas giants, and there is almost certainly not enough interest to produce globes of the moons of the outer planets. Even so, the USGS’s Astrogeology Research Program has globe gores for three of Jupiter’s moons — Callisto, Europa and Ganymede — so they’re there if you want them.
- Buy Replogle NASA Moon Globe at Amazon.com
The Six-Degree Field Galaxy Survey has released a map showing the position and clustering patterns of more than 100,000 nearby galaxies — of course, by “nearby,” they mean “within two billion light years.” The map, which covers 80 percent of the southern sky, is the result of the Survey’s work mapping the redshifts of these galaxies between 2001 and 2005, using the Anglo-Australian Observatory’s 1.5-metre UK Schmidt telescope. At the scale to which I’ve reduced the map’s image at right, one pixel equals nearly five megaparsecs — almost certainly the smallest scale we will ever see. My head just exploded.
(Update: In case you’re curious, the scale above is roughly 1:1.1×1019, or one to eleven quintillion.)
Olivier Ruellet blogs about the Tabula Peutingeriana (in French), which is as good an excuse as any to revisit this unusual medieval artifact. Inherited by Konrad Peutinger in 1508, the Tabula was a medieval copy of a fourth- or fifth-century map of the Roman road network. Calling it a map, though, may be a bit contentious: combined, its 11 sheets form an image 682 centimetres long and 34 centimetres wide (1:20 aspect ratio), running from Spain to India, with geographical shapes distorted beyond all proportions — bodies of water are elongated and narrow. (The section above runs from southern Italy to Syria: can you make out what’s what?) But the distance marks along each road are generally proportional; it’s been compared more than once to a diagrammatic subway map.
Though the physical map is so fragile that putting it on display for a single day generated headlines, the Tabula Peutingeriana can be viewed in its entirety online here as well as here — the latter page also offering a map showing what each sheet covers. Here’s an article about the Tabula by Jona Lendering. Of course, there is always the inevitable Wikipedia entry.
Previously: Tabula Peutingeriana: One Day Only.
Google has faced a lot of criticism for its Street View service, but this past Wednesday was the first time, I think, that they faced an angry mob when one of its cars tried to photograph streets in Broughton, a village in Buckinghamshire, England: BBC News, Times. No word on whether torches and pitchforks were used to turn back the Google car. This, in a country packed to the rafters with closed-circuit surveillance cameras (“which I guess is okay because it’s the well-meaning government and not a thoughtless evil corporation,” says Brian). Valleywag calls this essentially a revolt of the affluent (“One wonders how the police and driver would have responded if a similar mob had formed in a poor inner city neighborhood”). Thanks to Catholicgauze, Chachy and Mapperz for the links.
The Center for American Progress has an interactive map showing state-by-state unemployment rates and job losses, with a timeline dating back to 2005. It’s not a pretty picture: “Employers have laid off 4.4 million workers since the recession began, and a record 12.5 million workers are now unemployed. … Michigan continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.0 percent, followed by South Carolina (11.0 percent), Oregon (10.8 percent), North Carolina (10.7 percent), and Rhode Island and California (10.5 percent).” Via The Map Scroll.
Previously: Mapping the Recession and the Stimulus.
Have you read my review of the Nikon GP-1 GPS unit? You have? Good. Now here’s another one for you, by Christian Løverås. He compares his geotagging workflow using a separate GPS receiver to his workflow with the GP-1 — you have one guess as to which is simpler — explains the pros and cons of the device (strangely enough, he doesn’t mention cost, but then he has more expensive gear than I do), and talks about why he geotags photos.
- Buy Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit at Amazon.com
Apart from some rather obscure industry in-jokes and an atrocious pun, the focus of this year’s geospatial-industry silliness seems to be Google Street View and its impact on privacy. Google Earth Blog announces that the next-generation Street View will include 3D modelling and thermal imaging, while El Reg makes the obvious connection between Street View and Britain’s ubiquitous surveillance cameras. Remember: an April Fool’s gag should be plausible, and satire should have some bite to it. Don’t just be silly.
This, for example? Just silly. But funny. At least be funny.
Google LatLong points to a couple of resources for residents of the Fargo-Moorehead area affected by the flooding of the Red River: this My Map, put together by the owner of several Fargo-area radio stations (see above), and this Google Earth layer released by Google itself. Though the exact information provided by each differs slightly, both provide shelter locations, evacuation areas, and news updates, among other things.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Earth Observatory has an image from last Saturday of the affected area taken by the EO-1 satellite’s Advanced Land Imager.