Explore the Earth with online maps

Judging by the number of map-related posts at 10,000 Words, it has become increasingly clear that they are essential tool in the multimedia journalist’s arsenal. Plus “cartographer” looks good on anyone’s résumé.

One cannot talk about online maps that explore the Earth without first discussing Flash Earth, an online, virtual satellite that lets the user zoom in and out to any location in the world. Site visitors can also toggle between a number of different maps from sources like Google Maps, Yahoo! and Ask.com in a wonderfully fluid interface.

GeoGarage has mashed up NOAA nautical charts and a Google map to create a visual directory of the waters of most of North America. Most importantly, the map allows for toggling between the two layers for greater reference.

WeatherMole plans to put weathermen out of business with its map that plots any given location on a map and then gives the area’s five-day weather forecast in a few seconds. An even more detailed two-day forecast is available in a click.

If you’re waiting for some daylight surfing in Biarritz or plan on capturing the sunset in Cameroon, DaylightMap will help by illustrating where the sun is shining around the world. Google Maps Nighttime! is perhaps the site’s opposite and shows the world as it appears at night. The map is actually kind of magical, with the lights shining brightest in the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia.

Most maps were created to illustrate where we, and the others around us, live and online maps are no different. Potential home buyers and renters have made great use out of HousingMaps which plots craigslist listings on a more user-friendly interface. USA Today recently mapped home foreclosures in Denver, illustrating a national problem. Real estate site Trulia has incorporated Google Street View to give home buyers a better sense of the neighborhood surrounding their potential home. It bears mentioning that more than 40 cities are now covered in Street View. Click over to Listropolis for a complete list of links to each city.

World maps are more than just for oohs and aahs. My noxon has mapped a large number of the world’s radio stations into clickable points from which users can actually listen to each station’s broadcast. Gas Buddy’s National Gas Temperature Map illustrates the continuing crisis of rising gas prices here in the U.S. If you’re living on the East or West coast where gas prices are highest, you might want to consider a move to Wyoming. At least with the aforementioned sites, you’ll be able to find it on a map.

Also on 10,000 Words:

How the internet is changing how natural disasters are covered
Tracking down criminals with crime maps
5 Interactive maps that connect communities
4 Sites for viewing panoramas (and 3 ways to create them)
How to quickly track natural disasters online