Spinning Maps!

Here's a fun recent map I made, using Python's Basemap toolkit. It was a good learning exercise for me, and I was happy to put the code online so others could learn from it. This data is simply the population density of the entire world, saved as a big (lat,lon) grid of values. [original post here]

I love spinning globes/maps for 2 reasons:

  1. They avoid most map projection nonsense about skewing or stretching data
  2. They remind me of the globe I had as a kid, which my brother and I would play with. I remember spinning it as hard as I could, and putting my finger down on random places in the world. I suspect this is a very common experience, and one of the most profound interactions you can have with a visualization....

World Population Density from James Davenport on Vimeo.

Here's another great spinning map, but this time not of Earth. This is the dwarf planet Ceres, and the map is made by stitching pictures together as it rotates. The awesome animation was made by my friend Dr Mike Solontoi! [original page here] Ceres has also been in the news lately because of mysterious bright dots that showed up in the middle of a crater (you can see them in the animation).

I love spinning maps of other worlds, because it makes them feel so much more like real places!

Finally, I can't talk about spinning maps of other worlds without my friend Dr Alex Parker's awesome maps of many extrasolar objects... he's got a whole blog post on spinning moons! [orignal post here] I've featured Europa here, because it looks so damn cool!

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