Whether you’ve used it to map out a route or just to leisurely get an aerial glimpse of your childhood home, chances are, you’ve probably become familiar with Google’s intricate Earth program. Google Earth renders a 3D representation of our planet by suturing together satellite images, aerial photography, and geographic information. The program gives users a look at Earth like never before, and while that can show us the immense beauty the planet has to offer, it can also show us what a scary place it can be.
From viewing the planet as a whole to zooming right down to street level, Google Earth has given us a better understanding of the place we call home, including the places we’d like to visit and those we’d like to avoid.
The following screenshots show the darker side of our planet that we would normally not get to see. Here are 25 dark and dreary images that have been found on Google Earth.
1. There’s no denying that this large pentagram found on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir in Kazakhstan is unsettling. However, this site isn’t as sinister as it appears according to archaeologist Emma Usmanova. She explained to Live Science, “It is the outline of a park made in the form of a star.” Stars were known to be popular symbols during the Soviet era and the park’s roadways make the shape more visible.
2. There are few lakes that look as ominous as the crimson-colored body of water found in Iraq’s Sadr City. The sight was first brought to the Internet’s attention back in 2007, which prompted a lot of speculation. Multiple theories have been idealized from nearby slaughterhouses dumping blood into the canal to sewage or pollution, but there hasn’t been an official explanation.
3. These symbols found etched into the ground near Mesa Huerfanita, New Mexico certainly appear extraterrestrial. However, it was discovered that this spot is actually a popular designation for a property belonging to the Church of Scientology. The Washington Post explained, “The symbol marks a ‘return point’ so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder’s works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe.”
4. While no longer visible today, the S.S. Jassim was once the largest shipwreck visible on Google Earth. The Bolivian cargo ferry was launched back in 1961 but was met with an unfortunate demise after it sunk on the Wingate Reef off the coast of Sudan in December 2003.
5. This oddly intricate grid of interconnecting straight lines found embedded in China’s Gobi Desert raised many eyebrows for those who stumbled across it. However, it’s been theorized by experts that this is most likely a Yagi antenna array, which is used to track weather and for other atmospheric research.
6. This geographical marvel located near Medicine Hat in the south-east corner of Alberta, Canada appears to resemble a face from an aerial view. However, this formation is completely natural and has been dubbed the Badlands Guardian. The imagery is further solidified by the road and oil well, which many find looks like earphones.
7. The satellite image of a graveyard of airplanes was quick to grab the Internet’s attention. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is located just outside of Tucson, Arizona and it’s where retired planes go to be either be kept for storage or have their parts removed for reuse or resale. This aircraft boneyard has over 4,000 military aircraft parked on the base.
8. This hill formation was spotted on Google Earth by curious scanners who found that they resembled human lips. These landlocked lips are formed by two rocky ridges and stretch a half a mile long, located in Gharb, Darfur, in Sudan. The hill’s natural coloring only adds to the imagery.
9. This spiral formation in the Egyptian desert near Hurghada on the Red Sea coast may look like something extraterrestrial, but it’s actually land art called the “Desert Breath.” The piece was created by three Greek female artists back in March 1997 and covers an area of about 25 acres.
10. This giant stone sculpture is certainly worthy of a Google Earth zoom. The piece was created by Scottish gangster and convicted murderer, Jimmy Boyle, who actually designed the sculpture while he was still in prison. The 100ft structure, which is the largest concrete one in Europe, was created at Hunters Hall Park in Craigmillar, Scotland.
11. This aerial shot of Okey Bay in the North-East of New Zealand sparked speculation of a monster after many pointed out the long strip resembling a giant snake making its way through the water. However, a boat is visible upon further zoom, which makes it much more likely that this strip is just the trail.
12. The Beatrixpark Dock in the Netherlands was quick to reach virality after many people noticed what appeared to be a dead body and a trail of blood leading to it. However, it was later discovered that this crime scene was nothing more than a dog who loves to swim off the end of the jetty.
13. Kangtega is a major mountain peak of the Himalayas in Nepal with a summit of 6,782 meters. However, those who try and get an aerial view will notice that the peak appears to be blocked out. While there are a few theories floating around of why this could be, there hasn’t been an official explanation.
14. There are wrecks of several ships visible when viewing the waters of Shatt al-Arab in Basrah, Iraq, from above. According to niqash.org, the General Company of Ports of Iraq estimates that there are around 36 sunken ships scattered in the Shatt al-Arab, which is one of Iraq’s most important waterways.
15. This meteorite impact crater, which is located in the northern Arizona desert, is about 1,200 meters (3,900 ft) in diameter and some 170 m (560 ft) deep. Observing this meteor crater from above gives some unsettling scope of just how large it is and how fragile our planet can be.
16. These strange formations have been found multiple times on Google Earth, but many people have been stumped on what this could be. It certainly doesn’t look like any parking lot we’re familiar with. However, the U.K. Ministry of Defense has referred to these air base installments as motorcycle ranges.
17. This hypnotic visual looks almost foreign to our planet from a bird’s eye view, but it’s actually just the largest hot spring in the United States. The Grand Prismatic Spring is located in the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park and garnered its name for its striking natural coloration.
18. This star fort is certainly bound to grab the casual Earth scanner’s attention. The odd sight is actually Fort Bourtange, which was built in 1593 in the village of Bourtange, Groningen, Netherlands. The Fort currently serves as a historical museum, but it takes an aerial view to truly appreciate the design here.
19. In the Nazca Desert in southern Peru, there are a series of ancient geoglyphs that can only be appreciated from a bird’s eye view. The largest figures are up to 370 m (1,200 ft) long and are believed to have been created between 500 BC and 500 AD, however, their purpose still remains a mystery.
20. While this isn’t a sight that would be too unnerving on land, there’s no denying that this aerial shot looks kind of freaky. One Imgur user screenshotted this section of cliffs on Google Earth and pointed out how it looks like the ocean is about to pour onto the land.
21. No one in their right mind would want to stand behind Tu-160 strategic bombers when they start their engines, but this image certainly solidifies that notion. A Reddit user discovered this aerial shot of the Engels Air Force Base in Russia and shared just how much erosion has occurred from the exhaust fumes.
22. When you’re trying to capture images of the world’s surface, you’re bound to catch some less than pleasant moments. One Imgur user zoomed in on a fairly daunting interchange in South Haven, Michigan and noticed that the satellite managed to capture what appears to be just moments after a dramatic car crash.
23. Alma College, a girls’ private school in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, was built back in 1878 but was destroyed by a fire in 2008 of a suspicious nature. Later, two teenage boys were arrested and charged with arson. The building’s demise was captured by Google’s satellite showing the extent of the flames.
24. The Costa Concordia was wrecked off the coast of Isola del Giglio in Italy back in January of 2002. The Concordia-class cruise ship met its demise after it collided with a submerged rock and capsized in the following hours. The dramatic wreckage can still be viewed from Google Earth.
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