Where’s that lat/long? Ask Google Maps!

This morning there was a sizeable earthquake in the Gulf of California, or more precisely near 24.9N 109.0W according to the first tsunami bulletin issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. When I first saw that text bulletin, without an accompanying graphic, my first thought was: “so where is that point exactly?” Enter Google Maps to answer that one.

A nifty feature of Google maps is the ability to enter any lat/long point in the search box, either in decimal or degrees/minutes/seconds. Doing so will give you a marker on the map listing both types of co-ordinates, for example:

Note that to get the pop-up you’ll need to click the green marker.

As well as using the four compass points N/S/E/W for the lat/long values, you can also enter negative values for S and W, eg. “24.9 -109.0” gives the same result as “24.9N 109.0W”. And if your point of interest is in degrees, minutes and seconds instead, then use the following format: “41 17 22S 174 46 59E” or “-41 17 22, 174 46 59” for example (with or without the comma separating lat/long is ok either way).


Keyword Search for Firefox users

To make map lookup even faster, grab your Firefox (you do use Firefox right?!) and add a search bookmark with a keyword. Doing so will let you type something as simple as “map 40S 175E” in the location/address bar to jump straight to a map search result.

To set up a keyword search bookmark, visit Google Maps, right click the search box, then select “Add a Keyword for this Search…”.

In the New Bookmark window that pops up, give your bookmark a name (eg “Search Google Maps”) and a keyword (eg “map”).

And voilà! It doesn’t work! But don’t fret, we can fix the bookmark easily. Normally this technique does work well and I frequently use keyword searches for several sites directly from the address bar (eg IMDB, Twitter, Wikipedia to name a few).

To fix your bookmark, right click it in your bookmarks list, select “Properties” and change the location to “http://maps.google.co.nz/maps?q=%s”.

Note that the “%s” in the link above is replaced with the search term you enter after “map “.

Now you’re good to go! For example, to search Google Maps for Timbuktu simply enter “map timbuktu” in the address bar and hit enter. Voilà! Now it works, and now you know where Timbuktu is. 🙂

Google Maps gets Terrain

Google has recently added a “Terrain” view to its most excellent online map service at maps.google.com.

While the terrain doesn’t have labelled contours as per Topomaps, it’s certainly a very cool addition. You now have the option of viewing the standard map, a satellite view (with or without labels) and the above terrain view.