Clouds on Google Maps

I understand why clouds ‘just happen’ to obscure Camp David near Thurmont, MD. Why the clouds North of that in PA? Why a large group on the Tennessee / North Carolina line?

Are there things there that it is preferred we can’t easily see? Who prefers that?

Are these areas of clouds left there to make the Camp David formation seem less abnormal?

A Google search gave no quick answers as well. Any ideas?
(If there has been a previous discussion I didn’t see it. Sorry.)

What are you talking about? There’s some clouds on the less-zoomed-in photos of the area (where the scale is greater than 2 miles) but if you zoom in, the imagery changes and there are no clouds. I can see the tennis courts, the putting green, and the swimming pool at Camp David quite clearly on Google Maps.

Okay, well I feel like an idiot. I remember many years ago not being able to zoom in and I haven’t bothered since.

So out goes my overall question of why someone wants something obscured, so I will default to “Why are the clouds on the bigger maps if you can see things on the zoomed in maps?” as an attempt to restore my dignity…

I wonder if the OP is talking about sections that are blurred out on Google Streetview? I’ve noticed some very odd blurring, often license plates, signs or people’s faces. In a few instances, I noticed that for a long stretch along a road, the tops of the utiity poles are blurred out.

I read once that if anyone requests that anything be blurred out, Google will blur it out, no questions asked, to protect privacy. But why the tops of utility poles in Mexico?

Well, now you can have more fun playing with Google Maps now that you know that you can look at individual houses and cars, not just towns and lakes! :slight_smile:

The clouds are there on the “bigger” (i.e. wider area, smaller scale) maps because those images are from satellites. Usually image providers try to choose images from passes when the skies were clear, but in some areas (especially the tropics) that is not possible as it’s often cloudy.

When you zoom in, in most parts of the world you are switching from satellite images to aerial images (taken from aircraft). These tend to fly below the cloud level, so the clouds are not visible (and, of course, they were taken at different times from the satellite images, so the clouds visible from the satellite won’t even be there in the same place).

I don’t think that’s what the OP was talking about, but to answer your question: the blurring is done automatically. Licence plates and faces are supposed to be blurred out, and there are algorithms that recognise them and obscure them. Certain patterns in the image can confuse the computers that do this, so they get blurred too. Street signs often get blurred, which is annoying - presumably they look too much like licence plates.

Okay great, I’m going back in my cave. Wake me when they find out if the Aztecs were right about that whole calender thingy…

Actually, satellites seem to be increasingly used for the zoomed-in stuff as well. If you look at the bottom of the Google Maps image, if you see “Digital Globe” or “GeoEye” listed as the image source, those are commercial satellite data providers. In this particular case, the Camp David zoomed-in pictures are from Digital Globe.

Something of a hijack: Take a look at this view from Google Maps, which is of the lower Hudson River, just off the southern tip of Manhattan.

What are the blotches?

At first, I thought I was seeing the result of several closeups being taped together, but I can see individual waves and such, and they pass from one blotch to another seamlessly. It seems clear from this, that the entire photo was taken at one instant – but if so, why is the water lighter in one area and darker in another?

It’s very confusing. For example, in this view, there are parallel lines, in the left side of the screen, making it look like the right side was photographed separately. But in this view, those lines seem to pass from one area to another with ease.

My guess is you are seeing the effects of dredging to keep shallow water channels open.

You are talking about the Mayans, not the Aztecs, and the Mayans did not predict anything, their calendar* just rolled over on that date, like ours do each December 31th, so they could not “be right” (or wrong) about anything.
*One of their calendars, they used at least 2.

The zoomed in maps are mostly flown below the elevation of most clouds. And that’s not by accident. The maps that you see in google, with the roads and other layers, are flown, not satellite images. They’re rectified orthophotos which are corrected for relief displacement. Otherwise, the photos would be greatly distorted by elevation changes.

The cool stuff on the Nazca plain are blurred out as well. If you look real close, its a bunch of “Google” watermarks all piled up on top of each other.

Can someone post some links, please? I’d love to see the examples of “tops of utility poles in Mexico” and “cool stuff on the Nazca plain” that posters have referred to.

When you’re in Google Maps, look at the “print” icon, and just to the right is a button that looks like two links in a metal chain. That button, when pressed, gives you a link that you can copy and paste into email – or an SD post! – which will allow others to see the very same thing you were looking at!

I think they are several shots pasted together, but they are “blended” so you can sort of see the waves passing from one area to another. Look here and it’s pretty clear that there are two images pasted together, with waves going in different directions.

And more conclusive evidence here - the back half of a boat is visible, producing a wake, but the front is nowhere to be seen!

The darker “blotches” are certainly a different wave pattern than the lighter ones. The areas where the waves line-up are probably simple coincidence-- the wind happened to be blowing the same speed, and the water just happens to always have waves in those locations.

They were probably taken during different passes of the satellite and then stitched together, just as you guessed.

But then look here where you can clearly see the wake carries over between two different shades of water.

If you look at the Scheepvaart in Amsterdam harbour, the military base to the east is pixelated. (Hey, where’d the museum ship go?)

The Cheney place used to be blanked out, like the roof of the White House, but now that it’s the Binden place, the circle is fully detailed not obscured. The White House also now lets you see what you can see from the surrounding buildings anyway. Google Naval Observatory Washington

Another trivia anomaly is that there is a US law about publishing hi-res photos of Israel which appears to include the occupied territories of Palestine. The close-ups of Israel get kind of fuzzy.

As for the cloudiness on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, I can tell you from direct experience that it is cloudy here most of the time during the spring and summer.

That is, of course, to obscure the existence of the secret alien base deep in the mountains of the Great Smoky Mountains.

I think the clouds along the Tn/NC border the OP mentioned is the large patch in the northeast corner over Cherokee National Forest near Johnson City. You have to zoom out to see it. But I would bet it is actually smoke from a forest fire or controlled burn. I believe they do controlled burns there every year.

If you look here, you can see some bright white cumulus and cirrocumulus clouds to the right, but the main “cloud” is just a huge blotch of dirty white stuff to the left. Unlike the clouds, you can actually see through it in many places. Just to the left of the words “Cherokee National Forest” is a cloud that is casting a shadow onto the dirty white stuff, indicating that the dirty white stuff is much lower than cloudbase. And the dirty white stuff doesn’t seem to cast any shadows near it’s edges, so I bet it’s lingering smoke near the ground.