My day job as a Mac system administrator in a Chicagoland private school gives me a good perspective of both ends of the spectrum. When it comes to geography, high school students could use a tool like EarthDesk on their Macs. Instead of Desktop wallpaper, check out the earth.
Real Time Earth
My experience has shown that an old fashioned globe of the earth is a great teaching tool. It’s round. Visually, the experience of viewing your location relative to everything else on the planet is strikingly simple and accurate, and the right globe can even display countries and climate.
EarthDesk is about as close to that physical experience as you can get. It replaces the Mac’s Desktop wallpaper and give you planet earth instead.
What you get is about as close to real time as you can without living on the moon or looking out the window of the International Space Station. Light and dark, sun and moon, clouds, city lighting, and much of what you would see of the earth if you were not on earth.
EarthDesk pulls in live data so it’s not just a photo of the earth. It moves. See the earth where and when it has light and where and when it’s dark, all operating in the background, albeit slowly.
Got multiple Mac screens? No problemo. Need to see multiple projections? EarthDesk delivers Mercator, Azimuthal, Globe, Equi-rectangular, and more. While the cloud images are built-in you’ll need the annual data subscription plan for even more details, including higher resolution cloud layers, major tropical storms and hurricanes, and even earthquakes.
If there’s a better way to view the earth in more detail and closer to real time than EarthDesk, I haven’t seen it. Except maybe viewing the earth from the ISS, but even then EarthDesk has more options and greater detail.