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The United States Naval Observatory (USNO),Washington, USA

November 19th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States. Located in Northwest Washington, D.C., it is one of the very few observatories located in an urban area; when it was initially constructed, it was far from the light pollution generated by the then-smaller city center.

Established in 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, it was made into a national observatory in 1842 via a federal law. James Melville Gilliss was put in charge of the project.

The observatory's primary mission was to care for the United States Navy's marine chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment. It calibrated ships' chronometers by timing the transit of stars across the meridian. Initially located downtown in Foggy Bottom (near the Kennedy Center), the observatory was moved to its present location in 1893, atop Observatory Hill overlooking Massachusetts Avenue, amidst perfectly circular grounds.


The Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland

June 6th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Astronomical Observatory is an Institute within the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. It is named after Nicolaus Copernicus and is based at Fort Skala, some 10 km (6 miles) west of the center of the city. Travel is through either of the settlements of Bielany or Zakamycze.


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Figsbury Ring, England

April 22nd, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Figsbury Ring (grid reference SU188338) is a 11.2 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, notified in 1975.

Within the wider SSSI mentioned above, the earthworks of Figsbury Ring are sub-circular and enclose 6.4 hectares of grassland on a chalk ridge to the north east of Salisbury, in the parish of Firsdown, Wiltshire at NGR SU188338. It is yet to be fully investigated.

Small portions of the site were excavated in 1924 by Ben and Maud Cunnington as it was their belief that the site was the remains of an Iron Age Hillfort. Superficially this description of an earthwork with exterior ditch would seem appropriate, however the presence of an enigmatic inner ditch has led many archaeologists to doubt this interpretation. This ditch is separated from the outer rampart by a berm of up to 30 metres in width and, to many, it seems likely that the site actually began as a late neolithic Henge.


Military base in Kabaty Woods, Warsaw, Poland

April 12th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Military base in Kabaty Woods in Warsaw.

Former Cipher Bureau building constructed in 1937. Cipher Bureau was the Polish agency concerned with both cryptography (the use of ciphers and codes) and cryptanalysis (the "breaking" of ciphers and codes).

[More: Wikipedia]

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Entrance to Tokyo Bay AquaLine, Tokyo, Japan

March 27th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Entrance to Tokyo Bay AquaLine, Tokyo, Japan

The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line is a bridge-tunnel-combination across Tokyo Bay in Japan. It connects the city of Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture with the city of Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture. With an overall length of 14 km, it includes a 4.4 km bridge and 9.6 km tunnel underneath the bay - which is the longest underwater tunnel for cars in the world.

At the bridge-tunnel crossover point, there is an artificial island called the "Umi-hotaru (海ほたる, engl. sea firefly)" with a rest area as well as the usual restaurants, shops and amusement facilities. The characteristic wind tower Kaze no tō (風の塔) in the middle of the tunnel is used to pump air into the tunnel.

The road carries National Route 409 across the bay. It opened on December 18, 1997 after 31 years of construction at a cost of 1.44 trillion yen (11.2 billion USD at the time of opening). With the Tokyo Wan Aqualine the drive from the most important industrial regions Chiba and Kanagawa is reduced to 15 minutes. Before it was opened one had to drive a 100km long way along the Tokyo Bay which automatically leads through the center of Tokyo. One aim during the planning of the Aqualine was to reduce the traffic through the center of Tokyo, but as the highway toll is still quite high at 3,700 Yen, this effect doesn't take place as strong as expected.


Elbląg Canal, Poland

March 26th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Elbląg Canal (Polish: Kanał Elbląski, German: Oberländischer Kanal) is a canal in Poland, in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, 80.5 km in length, which runs southward from Lake Druzno (connected by the river Elbląg to the Vistula Lagoon), to the river Drwęca and lake Jeziorak. It can accommodate small vessels up to 50 tons displacement. The difference in water levels approaches 100 m, and is overcome using locks and a remarkable system of tracks between lakes.

Today it is used mainly for recreational purposes. It is considered one of the most significant monuments related to the history of technology on the territory of modern Poland.

The canal was designed in 1825-1844 by Georg Steenke, carrying out the commission given by the king of Prussia. Construction began in 1844. As the route was not important enough to justify building expensive, traditional locks between lakes, an ingenious system of tracks was employed instead, though the canal includes a few locks as well. Built originally under the name Oberländischer Kanal (Overland Canal) and situated in the Kingdom of Prussia, it was opened in 1860. Since 1945 the canal has been located in Poland. After wartime damage was repaired, it was restored to operation in 1948 and is now used for tourism.


Orrery, Torun, Poland

March 25th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Orrery in Torun, Poland

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The Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland

March 22nd, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

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File for Google Earth with the plan of the tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is a railway tunnel under construction in Switzerland. With a planned length of 57 km (35 miles) and a total of 153.5 km (95 miles) of tunnels, shafts and passages planned, it will be the longest railway tunnel in the world upon completion, ahead of the current record holder, the Seikan Tunnel. The project is designed to feature two separate tunnels containing one track each. The tunnel is part of the Swiss AlpTransit project, also known as New Railway Link through the Alps NRLA which also includes the Lötschberg Base Tunnel between the cantons of Berne and Valais. Like the Lötschberg tunnel, it is intended to bypass winding mountain routes and establish a direct route suitable for high speed rail and heavy freight trains. On completion it is expected to decrease the current 3.5 hours travel time from Zürich to Milan by one hour. The two portals will be near the villages of Erstfeld, Canton Uri and Bodio, Canton Ticino. Completion has been projected for 2015 but due to delays the tunnel may only be completed as late as 2017. Nearby are two more St. Gotthard Tunnels: the 1881 railway tunnel and the 1980 road tunnel.