Most of us have made good use of Google’s handy web application, Google Earth, to locate an important address or
10. Severnaya Zemlya, Russia
In the northern Arctic of Russia and located off Siberia’s shore is Severnaya Zemlya (79°19′22.8″N 95°19′42.13″E). This island is actually an archipelago or group of islands, but you can hardly tell given Google’s highly distorted and patched blocking of the satellite imagery. So what’s hiding underneath? Perhaps a frozen mix of rock and glacier, or perhaps some secrets. Severnaya Zemlya was the last archipelago to be discovered on earth. Some have speculated, upon studying the grainy, highly zoomed images of the islands, that there lie ruins of an unknown origin on Severnaya Zemlya.
9. Volkel Air Base, Netherlands
Strikingly evident is how Google Earth has ‘camouflaged’ the area of this military installation in the Netherlands (51.6572° N, 5.6908° E). The highly pixelated cover is unmistakable. It stands to reason that there is a very good purpose for obscuring the image, given the nature of what goes on there and it’s potential as a military target. However, one has to ask why not cover up all military base satellite images in the world? In fact, over at Bing Maps, the base shows up clearly, however, it’s unknown if the image there is current; what gives?
8. Marcoule Nuclear Site, France
This nuclear power plant in France (44°08’40.3″N 4°42’22.5″E) is part of a complex which began operation in 1956. It was home not only to nuclear power production, but it has been said that it was used extensively for both industrial and military nuclear testing. Its main reactor was decommissioned in 2009. The facility remains operational and makes our list of places Google Earth blocked. In 2011 an explosion occurred on the site and authorities confirmed that a very weak leak of radioactivity occurred.
7. 2207 Seymour Ave, Cleveland, Ohio
This is the infamous house of Ariel Castro. He kept three women imprisoned for over a decade until his capture in 2013. Although the house is no longer standing, as it was demolished sometime after his arrest, it still appears in street view completely covered from every angle by a blurred outbox. The most recent aerial view shows the home completely gone. It’s a mystery as to why the house was blurred in the first place. It could be as a sign of respect to the victims, however it would be a unique gesture indeed. This one may remain a mystery forever.
6. NATO, Geilenkirchen, Germany
Another military institution to make the list is this air base in Germany. Half of the aerial image is pixilated with purposeful digital camouflage. One can’t help but wonder if something highly secret was once, or still is, going on at Geilenkirchen. This base was home to Operation Clipper in WWII, which included U.S. 84th Infantry Division in its mission and is situated near the border with the Netherlands.
5. Mount Kangtega, Nepal
Nestled in the Himalayas is the 22,251 ft. high Mt. Kangtega. One face of the mountain contains a massive large black area that looks to be very artificial. This is clearly seen while rotating the satellite view until the topographical feature of Google Earth takes over. This mountain was first climbed to its peak in 1964. It’s a wonder if the mountaineer ever noticed a large gaping black hole in the side of the mountain. Perhaps something else resides at the spot that only became apparent in more recent times and needed to be covered up. Perhaps a crash of a highly classified military jet plane? Your guess is as good as mine.
4. Minami-Tori-Shima, NW Pacific
Using Google Earth and navigating to coordinates (24°17’30.98″N 153°58’43.35″E) you are met with an image of a rippling dark blue ocean and nothing much else. However navigate using Google Maps and you see a tiny island. Perhaps this was just a mistake, perhaps not. Or maybe the image seen in Google Maps is not current or relevant to whatever is possibly being covered up there. This tiny little place, which in English means Southern Bird Island, is a Japanese ring-shaped coral reef. The island has no actual civilian population, however it is strategically important as it permits Japan to claim water rights for economic purposes. And interestingly enough, within the last 5 years, very large rare earth metals deposits were found near the island.
3. KFC, Anywhere
The popular fast food restaurant KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken, happens to have the face of good old Colonel Sanders blurred out everywhere. Yes everywhere. We’ve heard of secret recipes, but secret corporate icons? Interestingly enough, Colonel Sanders (1890-1980) was a real person. He is the founder of KFC which first opened in 1952. His image is likely blurred out due to Google’s policy of not showing the faces of people, alive or dead. So we understand the rationale, but isn’t this taking a policy a bit too far?
No, not the satellite radio provider. The actual star Sirius is conspicuously covered over with a poorly drawn, what is supposed to resemble, yellow sun. The Google Sky application, which is bundled with Google Earth, uses earth and space-based telescope images to populate the universe beyond. Sirius is the brightest star in the Earth’s sky and is almost twice as bright as the next in line. It is actually a star system rather than a single star. It consists of a sun, about twice as large as our own, called Sirius A and a white dwarf star called Sirius B. One has to ponder what’s behind that yellow blotch. Why would google have covered it? There are many other stars visible yet only this one is censored. Why is it that Google can’t find a clear image of the brightest star in our sky?
1. Babylon, Iraq
At the center of this ancient Middle Eastern and the biblical city lies only a blurry swath of seemingly nothing surrounded by a city. No ancient ruins are visible, no structures, no signs of life are visible at all. Why is that? Surrounding Babylon are other cities and villages, and although the imagery is not perfect, one can make out civilization exists there. Saddam Hussein kept a residence in Babylon; surely it and other structures should be visible. Perhaps the more plausible explanation has more to do with the United States military’s base, Camp Alpha, which was erected on top of the ancient ruins of Babylon during the Iraq war. Perhaps, as a result, there are still valid strategic reasons to keep prying eyes out.