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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK
Google maps give fresh perspective
Copyright Google 2005
The Washington Monument - as seen from space
Photographs of North America's most significant landmarks and locations, including the Grand Canyon, Alcatraz and Mount Rushmore are being given a fresh perspective thanks to a tool by Google.

The search engine giant now provides satellite photographs of many locations in the US and Canada.

Users need only type in a post code and a photo from space of that location - if available - is then shown.

It has prompted some users to compile a gallery of the more interesting results while another has used the photos in association with photo-sharing site Flickr to give a guide to his childhood.

Digital map

Copyright Google
Matt Haughey gives people a tour from space of his childhood haunts

The satellite maps are provided by digital map maker Keyhole Corporation, which was bought by Google last year.

At the moment Google only offers satellite images of locations in the US and Canada but Keyhole has data for the whole globe so the service could be rolled out for other countries.

While satellite images have been commercially available for some time, the cost has put the photos out of reach of most individuals.

Satellite imaging firm EarthSat sells photos which can cost about $22 (14) per square kilometre with a minimum purchase of 25 square kilometres.

The detail in some of the Google photos is impressive - putting zoom at the highest level lets you pick out individual houses and even cars.

Almost any address has a satellite photo version but Keyhole has tried to calm privacy fears by pointing out that the photos are at least six months old.

Courtesy of Google
The stadium home of the San Francisco 49'ers

One website has begun to compile links to photographs of some of the most famous and unusual locations in the US and Canada.

Football stadia, nuclear plants, air force bases and even the fabled "Area 51" are among the locations to have satellite photos.

Another user Matt Haughey has used the maps in conjunction with photo sharing tool Flickr to give people a potted guide to his childhood in Yorba Linda, near Los Angeles, in California.

Haughey, a director at copyright organisation Creative Commons, has used a satellite photo of where he used to live and added annotated notes so that people can follow incidents in his youth at the precise location they happened.

The house where he was born, the childhood homes of his friends and past girlfriends, the route of his paper round and where he met his wife for the first time are all shown along with accompanying notes.

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