• Display of a section of the 86400×43200 Blue Marble pictures that NASA derived from imagery taken in 2004. The shown section is 720×600 by default, but can be resized using the + and – buttons at the top.
  • Clicking near the edge of the picture moves the focus into the respective direction, clicking on its center zooms in (and back out), thus switching between 4- and 0.5-gigapixel versions.
  • A clickable world map on the right always shows the current area shown.
  • By clicking on the numbers next to Overlay and Base at the top of the screen, the month whose picture is to be displayed can be chosen. Here, Base means the main picture and Overlay one that is only partially shown around the current mouse position, as well as on a local overview map on the right. This way, snow cover and vegetation can be easily compared. × switches the overlay off, e.g. in case your CPU or internet connection is too slow.
  • In addition to the different months, night-time pictures of 1992 and 2002 (N92 and N02; courtesy NGDC; more about them here) and the old (O) Blue Marble of 2002 can be chosen; in combination with the overlay feature the former enables to see night lights 'in daylight context' or even compare a city's extent in 2002 with that of 1992. (Caution when interpreting differences in brightness, technical imprecision may account for some.)
  • The top right of the screen shows the current geographic coordinates of the picture (move the mouse over it to see the exact place they point to), those for the mouse pointer are additionally shown in the browser's status bar (if allowed by the browser).
  • Towns can be searched for using the box on the right. (Found towns may be invisible due to small population.)

Other options:

  • [nostretch] This compensates for the distortion of geographic shapes by adjusting the picture width. The Blue Marble picture is given in equirectangular projection, which results in increased such distortion toward the poles.
  • [borders] Display of countries' national borders. Sometimes the line appears to be missing when there is actually a wide river forming two coastlines instead of a land border. (Borders data originates from the CIA's World DataBank, one disputed border apparently left out is Syria's western one with Lebanon and Israel.)
  • [towns] Display of boxes around towns, signifying their population and linked to the respective English-language Wikipedia articles. Depending on the zoom level, towns over 5'000 or 50'000 inhabitants are included. (Some towns may be missing due to space constraints, many in Asia due to insufficient data. Wikipedia articles may be chosen unluckily given, like in the case of London, Ontario, which links to London, England.)
  • [geonames] Display of the names of Earth's longest rivers (at their deltas), some mountains, large lakes, islands, peninsulas, etc.
  • [townnames] Display the names of towns instead of mere boxes. Due to space constraints, this leads to fewer towns being displayed. Don't use in combination with nostretch, as names may then overlap.
  • [mini] Depending on the picture size chosen, space on your screen can get cramped; this option reduces the width of the overview maps on the right.

Direct links...

  • to those pages of the Degree Confluence Project (which collects photos from intersections of meridians and parallels) that are relevant to the currently viewed area.
  • to 'real maps' of the current position at Bing and Google Maps.

Please send corrections or other comments concerning this browser to urs.enke@web.de; thanks for the pictures go to NASA's Earth Observatory and, for the night-lights data up to 2010, to the NGDC's Earth Observation Group. Data on towns has been compiled by Stefan Helders, the national borders have been generated using the The Generic Mapping Tools.

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