Google Earth
Google Earth Setup
Ever wish you could pull up a map and easily roam around looking for a dark sky sites? If so, here's a very cool and easy way to do it with Google Earth and images provided by the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute of Italy.
  • You need the Google Earth program loaded onto your PC. Get it here if you don't already have it (the free version is what you want): click here.

  • Download the light pollution map for North America: click here. After the file is downloaded, unzip the .tif file and save it to a known location on your disc drive.

  • Start Google Earth and choose Add|Image Overlay from the menu.

    • Give the new overlay a meaningful name like "Night Sky" or anything else to your choosing.

    • For the "Image URL or Filename" prompt, click on the Browse button and find and click on the .tif image you just unzipped. Since I saved my .tif in C:\home, I used "C:\home\global_northern_Vb.tif".

    • Click on the "Advanced" check box and fill in the following boundary coordinates:
      N: 55.076405
      S: 9.210841
      E: -59.429179
      W: -126.158321

    • You'll want to adjust the opacity of the overlay so you can still see the underlying roads and terrain beneath the light pollution overlay image. An opacity between 25% and 50% seems to work well for me.

      When you are done, it should look something like this:

    • Click OK to save these settings.

    • The image layer "Night Sky" (or the name you used) will now be in your "Places" box. Here is a cropped screen print of my "Places":

    • Click the check box next to "Night Sky" (or the name you used) to activate the image layer. Example:

Here is a view of Florida with the "Night Sky" image layer on: