681 votes Vote

Use elevation information from Google Maps API v3

Landscape features (such as mountains) can greatly affect sunrise/sunset time. Since Google does provide elevation information, it makes sense to use it to adjust sunrise/sunset time (and even sunrise/sunset location a little bit when it touches the high mountain). I fully realize that it is not a trivial ask, but it will make the service much more practically useful.

extesy, 06.04.2010, 21:02
Idea status: under consideration


onthecoast, 28.01.2011, 03:02
How about using Google Maps Street View... this could be used to show the trajectory of the sun or moon from a landbased location instead of looking down in plan view. As in Google Maps Street View the user could pan 360 Deg around and 90 Deg up and down. Not sure if it's possible but would be damn cool if it was.
Aaron Lecciones, 02.03.2016, 01:58
I think this is very useful indeed... even if this is just an 80% approximation of what could happen on the site as seen from a normal human view (landscape, 'street view'). Even as a paid version (affordable I hope, subscription as a set of tools, one-time use, monthly subscription, one or several tools ) this can be invaluable.
Fraser Stephens, 09.03.2011, 08:48
It would add a huge value to the map if elevation of surrounding ground was taken into account. To have a "shadow" showing where sun hits would also be cool. Hope you can add it!
Bill Liddell, 21.05.2011, 15:08
Being a photographer, I'm keen on this idea since elevation will make a difference to sunrise, sunset and the time (and so bearing) where this occurs. A notated table of adjustments (bearing angle and time dependent on elevation) would be one solution.
SarahSarich, 22.10.2011, 20:19
I'm just agreeing with everybody else. Being able to see shadowed areas would be extremely convenient.
Radmer, 05.09.2012, 13:42
Looking for a chalet in Austria. Want to know if it is in a sunny position in October. Would be great to see shadows form taking the surrounding mountains in consideration.
lt, 07.08.2013, 11:19
really be good to be able see actual sunrise sunset times relative to elevation
Evan, 10.01.2014, 15:55
Agreed... this would be much more complex, but it is doable and would be an extension of providing the direction and degrees above horizon information. If the vector to the sun is lower on the z-plane than the vector to the highest point of land in that same direction (adjusting for curvature of the earth), then you adjust the sunrise/sunset time accordingly.

To display this information, I would add a second column to the sunrise/sunset details box. Knowing those times wrt horizon and surrounding land from the selected point is important. I'm trying to determine where to place a building to maximize winter sun exposure on a lot that slopes down to the north and has an escarpment to the south... not an easy challenge, but knowing how the sunrise/sunset time changes by location would help a lot.

The shadow bit is WAY harder, but would need the above work to be done (and would need to be done for a huge number of points on the visible map to guarantee any accuracy). If you were to implement this, for processing time alone, you'd have to limit how far zoomed in/out the user can be (more zoomed out means less reliable result if you're using a fixed number of points in the window, or a lot more calculations if you do a fixed number of points per metre). I'd also consider making it a button (ie. draw shadows on map) instead of doing it dynamically every time the map location/time/date changes. A useful feature here would be to keep the shadows drawn on the map until the time/date is changed, so the user can expand their view by panning over if they need to. Of course, the big problem here is that it doesn't account for trees/buildings which (depending on the size and location of the obstructions) can change the shadows substantially, but some information is better than none. :)

Overall, this is a great tool. I hope that it continues to evolve. :)
leo, 04.04.2014, 04:28
Just what i was missing, too!

however possible this is what a person needs... I know there are hand tools for doing this by tracing with a disc onto paper but for people like the photographer above and like me who want to look at peices of land prospectively for farm/homestead sites... it is necessary to know such things at least roughly about where what angles of sun are hitting a property!

in anycase map is great and such things can likely be estimated thinking about the normal sunrise on a day and comparing the elevations of the ridge/ part of ridge in the way with the places one is thinking of building, growing and greenhousing! Dope work!
vskiper, 31.08.2014, 14:24
Having a chance to calculate the skyline would make this great tool perfect. I'm not sure Google map could provide enough information on per-building-level so it won't help people calculate a very own greenhouse or patio but the landscape model is good enough to elaborate the general skyline for architectural and/or solar energy planning. The skyline could also be plot into polar map.
Rob, 24.08.2016, 00:27
This would be great. It's like the height or elevation of the sun, which is the most popular improvement option.
Bill, 03.12.2016, 19:26
I just want to pick a spot for romantic sunset and know that it would be occluded by a building or mountain, especially a mountain.
Oliver, 06.06.2017, 12:29
At the minimum, can you show Google's 'Terrain' view so we can make educated guestimates?
C Lee, 18.09.2017, 14:12
Yes! So much this!

I've been hoping to make sunrise a part of my day for years. The trouble is, I live in a valley with a pretty large variation in elevation for the surrounding mountains. If I go outside to watch the sunrise according to any weather apps or even this web app, I'm sure to be early and it could be anything from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. For example today the sunrise is shown as occurring at 7:12am however the sun did not peak out over the mountains until 7:49 AM This gets even more complicated depending on where I am in the valley. That is, I've noticed when I'm along the north east edge of the mountains i.e. the foothills, the sun will often poke through the mountains illuminating a sliver of the valley to the south of me but it could be another hour still before it will be visible to me. If there was some way to account for location and local geography it would be so much more useful.

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