What use is all that fancy 3D building stuff in Google Earth? Well, for one, it can help you find out if you are in the line of site of a particular geostationary television satellite. has just created a really innovative use of Google Earth’s increasingly accurate rendering of urban cityscapes: Not only will the site calculate the direction you need to point your dish at to catch a certain satellite from your location on Earth, it will now also draw the line of sight for you in Google Earth, and show you if it cuts through nearby buildings (in which case you’d be out of luck).

Here’s how it works: Enter your address on and choose a satellite. You get back a Google Map with the relevant dish setup data.


(Move the marker to fine-tune.) But Google Maps can’t show you 3D buildings, which is why just below the map you can now open the view in Google Earth. The resulting KML file draws the exact line of sight from your location to the satellite.


As you can see above, in case you wanted set up a satellite dish beside Trinity Church on Wall Street, you’d be out of luck.


You can zoom out all the way until you see the satellite yourself.

My one big feature request: I’d like to be able to set the height above ground that my dish finds itself at. Many dishes are are not at ground level but on the roof of an apartment complex, and this matters in line-of-sight calculations. Still,’s use of Google Earth is a really novel idea.

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  1. Thanks for the suggestion. Setting the dish height above ground on the website would be easy to do but the problem is when the user gets the height wrong he will need to go back and forth between the website and GE downloading new kml files until he’s happy.

    The easiest solution is to pull the end node of the line a bit further back – that way the line height at the initial location increases.

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