I am building an ANSI E poster size map collection and would like to add a nice rendering of the globe to the maps indicating the approximate position of the region on the globe.

The problem is that I need the globe rendering to be high quality, high resolution image. I think minimum 300 or 400DPI @ about 12" x 12" inches so that I can work with it in CorelDRAW where I will be creating the final product.

I have Google Earth (Free), NASA World Wind and ArcGLobe but neither software is capable of producing a satisfactory result. All look OK but the resolution of the image is not a press quality.

So far Google Earth seems best (although terrain relief would be better then the spotty imagery), followed by NASA World Wind and legging behind is ArcGlobe. (Given the price tag, one would expect ArcGlobe to deliver but I am fully aware of the ArcScene exporter problems so I am not very surprised.)

If someone could recommend a virtual globe (free) program that I can use to do this that would be great. Other options are welcomed as well; the globe does not have to be dynamic but it has to focus on Canada, centered on Ontario.

Here are the outputs from the above mentioned programs:

Google Earth Google Earth NASA World Wind NASA World Wind ESRI ArcGlobe 10 ESRI ArcGlobe 10

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    I'd be curious if this globe in Silverlight 5 could be rendered to XPS and then printed. It is not clear to me though, if this is possible with XNA. Jun 3, 2011 at 14:44
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    Wow! That looks just amazing. If it's not clear to you I won't even try but when you figure it out please do share the info. Jun 3, 2011 at 15:07
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    Is copyright going to be an issue? Jun 3, 2011 at 17:02
  • Yes. Cannot violate any copyright laws. As for the above, this likely disqualifies the Google Earth globe. NASA looks OK but will have to contact them for further clarifications. ArcGlobe is good. Jun 3, 2011 at 18:11

4 Answers 4


Render your own using POV-Ray, a ray casting engine that can make images of any arbitrary size. Here's an example earth centered on Southern California: http://geohack.net/earth/sb-2048.png

See this excellent guide for details on the approach.

  • This is what I need. Of course with no experience using POV-Ray there is going to be a a learning curve. I already have an error on the script in the light position part. #switch (View) "Expected 'numeric expression'" Jun 3, 2011 at 20:01
  • OMG! Fantastic! One link is broken there so I used the Nasa imagery recomended above. could you quickly describe how to center the globe on Ontario, Canada. Just need to get that and it's perfect! Jun 3, 2011 at 20:29
  • Nevermind. Found it. Thanks a bunch!#case(3) // --- North America --- #declare Light_Angle=<20,0,-22>; #declare View_Angle=<32,0,-92>; #break Jun 3, 2011 at 20:38

The highest-resolution, seamless and cloudless imagery you're going to find is from NASA's Visible Earth.


I'm not sure if that's what you are looking for, but have a look at:

All via Information Aesthetics Weblog


Would you be able to do it using Natural Earth data? I'm not sure if it would work, but you could shade terrain based on height, and bathymetry based on depth.

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