if you’re into geocaching, terraserver and google maps can be your greatest allies. well, maybe second greatest, right after your trusty gps receiver. with terraserver, you can pull up hires satellite photos and topo maps of just about everywhere in the continental us. with google maps, you can easily pull up a road map and driving directions.
however, one thing i noticed when google maps launched was that it’s interface is conspicuously lacking a lat/lon entry field. it turns out there are a couple of query parameters that you can use to pull up coordinate based maps. with this info, you can make a simple form to pull up both map results for a given latitude/longitude combination, which should hopefully be a handy tool for your next gps treasure hunt. continue reading to see how this works.
there are two query parameters to specify latitude and longitude. they are PgSrh:NavLat and PgSrh:NavLon, respectively, and they take decimal values. if your location is in degree/minute notation, just divide the minutes by 60 to get the appropriate decimal value.
the final terraserver query string looks like this:
plugging that in should give you a birds eye view of my first two colorado 14ers (little bear and blanca). note the hairy ridgeline in between the two where i probably should have died.
google maps parameters
google maps has a single query parameter in which you specify both latitude and longitude. the parameter name is ‘sll’ and has the format [latitude]%2C[longitude]. like terraserver, these are in decimal format.
the final google maps query looks like this:
enter that one, zoom out a bit, and you should be able to plot your next trip to the super top secret area 51.
make your own interface
you should be able to take this info and make use of it in your next geocaching quest. both services are useful for different tasks, so i just like to use a quick and dirty html interface for pulling up both map results for a lat/lon combination that i can quickly key in. make your own and let us know about it, or in the mean time, just bookmark and use mine below:
jason’s quick and dirty google maps / terraserver split screen viewer
hop to it
it’s time to get out there and find something. happy hunting and happy hacking!