Latest Google 'Wonder' Is Out of This World

sky map

For the folks at Google, it seems that the world is not enough.

Having conquered the Earth, the Google Maps team is now taking on the sky with a new tool that gives amateur astronomers a way to put a planetarium in their pockets. has gone to the ends of Google Earth (and Maps) to explore some of the most interesting images left behind by pranksters, artists, Mother Nature and everyday people.

But its latest "wonder" is out of this world.

Launched Tuesday, Google Sky Map lets users view a labeled map of the sky on smart phones powered by Google's Android operating system.

Using GPS technology, a date clock and a compass, it helps users identify and locate all the stellar spectacles in the sky.

With a compass and an accelerometer, the application determines the exact location that your phone is facing and shows you the stars that are visible.

Let's say you want to identify the brightest star over the horizon, you just point the phone in that direction and "Venus" would pop up on your screen.

According to Google, the app doesn't need a line of sight to find the stars and planets. Even on a cloudy night, it will show you the stars up in the night sky.

A whole community of Google Earth explorers and bloggers catalogs the latest virtual places of interest, from heart-shaped lakes and capsized cruise ships to unusual-looking houses and buried treasure. Now they'll get to travel virtually to the final frontier.

But before they do, here are some of the earthly wonders they've uncovered.

Arizona's Oprah Maze

She's one of the biggest stars on the planet, so it only makes sense that she has a special place in Google Earth too. Arizona's Schnepf Farms carves a maze with the outline of a famous person into its 10-acre cornfield each year around Halloween. Larry King, Jay Leno and Steve Nash are among the celebrities who have been recognized in this way. In 2004, Oprah Winfrey was the farm's celebrity of choice.

60-Foot Phallus

In a recent Google Earth prank, using a can of white paint, an English teenager painted a 60-foot phallus on the roof of his parents' home, hoping that the giant image would be seen on Google Earth.

The parents of Rory McInnes, 18, learned about the pornographic mural a year after their son painted it, when a helicopter pilot spotted it from the air and alerted the British newspaper the Sun.

When Andy McInnes, 54, was first told about the painting, he thought it was a joke but Rory soon confessed.

"When Rory gets home, he will be given a scrubbing brush and white spirit and he can go and scrub it off," Andy McInnes told the Telegraph of his son, who is living in Brazil until he starts college next year.

Heart-Shaped Lakes and 10-Foot Snakes

Heart-Shaped Lake

Google Earth Blog's Frank Taylor and Google Sightseeing's James Turnbull said that there's a lot of love on Google Earth. They've compiled whole collections of heart-shaped things seen from space, as well as a handful of visible marriage proposals. This heart-shaped lake in Ohio is just one of several like it found by members of the Google Earth community.

Man Walking His Snake

Leon Kidd, 25, was photographed carrying his 10-foot boa Nibblez along a road in Norwich last summer, the U.K.'s Telegraph reported Wednesday. Norwich is one of 25 U.K. cities included in Google Street View, that lets users see cities and neighborhoods virtually from their computers.

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