Flying Camera Satellite Images 1999

The following images are reproductions of aerial photographs and satellite images,
held in the Lloyd Reeds Map Collection, McMaster University Library.
The original source of each image is indicated when known.
The collection is called "Flying Camera" because the majority of images are from the annual Fliegende Kamera/Flying Camera calendar, published in Stuttgart.
The images are available in the Map Collection in paper format only, and may be borrowed by McMaster University students for class presentations.



(Flying Camera Calendar, January 1999)

S 31o 45', W 069o 45'
18 September 1986
1:1,400,000 to ca. 1:350,000
hg: 705 km
Thematic Mapper (TM), Landsat 5, Bands: 1,4,7
upward: N

Those regions of the eastern Andes located some 150 km north of Mendoza, Argentina, are characterized by north-south trending mountain ranges. The contours of these ranges delineate the path of fault systems in the Earth's crust, and the mountains themselves were shaped during the process of Andean orogeny and ensuing east-west crustal compression.

This region comprises areas with widely varying elevations, ranging from the snow-covered and glaciated peaks of the Andes (blue, lower left) with South America's highest mountain, Mount Aconcagua (6960 m), to the low-lying plains of the Argentinean Pampa, with elevations of less than 1000 m (lower right).

The San Juan River cuts a zigzag path through the rugged morphology of the region. Green slopes and escarpments are visible along the banks of the upper tributaries of the river (left). Here grasses and shrubs have gained a toehold in the relatively fertile volcanic gravel. A broad dark-colored zone of 3000- to 4000-m-high mountains, still covered with snow in this spring image (blue), can be seen further to the east. These mountains are made up of older (pre-Mesozoic) layered and partially deformed sedimentary rocks. Similar rock formations also comprise the oval-shaped Sierra Pié de Palo (upper right).

After cutting deep gorges into the heavily folded older rocks of the sub-Andean foreland (wide dark north-south band) on its path eastward, the San Juan River flows into a broad, shallow delta-shaped valley. Although the valley is arid, numerous irrigation channels have made the development of agricultural plots possible here. The fields form green-patterned areas clustered around the city of San Juan. Light gray patches represent dried-out lakes along the river's course as it drains to the southeast. The dryness of the climate in the region is underscored by structures which resemble sand dunes (right center).


(Flying Camera Calendar, February 1999)

N 54o 21', E 008o 46'
25 May 1989
ca. 1:13,000 to ca. 1:6,000
hg: ca. 3,900 m Camera: ZEISS RMK A 30/23, f:305, 24 mm
Film: Kodak Aerochrome Infared 2443 II
upward: SW

Schleswig-Holstein owes the characteristic appearance of its countryside to Scandinavian glaciers which deposited layers of rock and soil, in some places more than 100 m deep, during various glacial advances. Since the glaciers approached from the east, the land that is now Schleswig-Holstein can be divided into three distinct zones. In the eastern parts, hilly regions, rich in lakes and fertile loamy soil (drift topography), were left behind by receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age (Weichsel Glacial Period). Along Schleswig-Holsteins "center line", a belt of Geest, sandy and poor soils that support little vegetation other than heath, and older moraine remnants stemming from the Saale Ice Age were left behind on the glacial outwash plain. Along the west coast, however, polders have been built on the North Sea and very fertile marsh lands grow upon Saale Ice Age boulder clay deposits. The tops of older moraines occasionally peek out of the marsh like islands in the sea ("Geest-kern"), for example on the islands of Sylt and Föhr. Farmers liken Schleswig-Holstein's countryside to "two slabs of ham on a lean bone".

The Eider peninsula, with its clayey silty soil, belongs to the fertile marsh lands. Ooze from the North Sea makes for heavy and rich soils, which can at times also be very dense and waterlogged. In order to deal with the problems of heavy and wet soils, farmers began to dig pits during the 19th century to reach the lime-rich layers of rubble in the ground moraine underneath. This lime marl was then used to fertilize and loosen the soil in their fields. These nearly circular "holes" are still visible in practically every field in the region. The pits were usually dug in the center of a field to make it easier for farmers to reach the total surface area with their difficult- to-maneuver horse-drawn wagons with a minimum of effort.

Today, in the age of chemical fertilizers, marlpits are no longer used. They are overgrown by vegetation, and water frequently collects in their depressions. In an effort to preserve or even to revive important ecosystems, old-style agricultural "monuments", such as high-growing hedge-rows (Knicks) which shelter fields from winds, are now protected by law. Preservationists are striving to maintain the largest of the marlpits as small biotopes within intensively cultivated farming areas for future generations.


(Flying Camera Calendar, March 1999)

N 44o 50', W 0o 34'
12 September 1984
ca. 1:600,000 to ca. 1:170,000
hg: 705 km
Thematic Mapper (TM), Landsat 4
upward: NE

Located on the southern branch of the Garonne River, Bordeaux is the fifth largest city in France and the largest French city on the Atlantic coast. Together with its suburbs (left center) it counts more than 700,000 inhabitants, making it the undisputed capital of the Aquitaine region. Traditionally the city lies at the heart of the Garonne valley, near the mouth of the river and close to the "Les Landes" plain to the west and southwest of the city, as well as to the "L'Entre-Deux-Mers" hills to the northeast. A port city since the 12th century, Bordeaux owes much of its prosperity to a flourishing wine trade with England. In the 18th century the city became a pivotal point in colonial "triangular" trade, transferring goods and slaves between the West Indies, Africa, and Europe. The harbor now lies at a distance of 100 km from the ocean and it's struggling to deal with the problem of siltation in the Garonne Estuary (upper center). Although its world renowned wine trade is still a major source of prosperity, Bordeaux's industries are less developed than those in other French cities. Bordeaux draws much of its importance from its position as a regional and administrative center, and from its regional media and universities.

The Bordelais region is renowned for vineyards which carpet the gravely hills, the "graves", between the left bank of the Garonne and the Bay of Biscay. Under English rule during the Middle Ages wine production was aimed at producing table wines for the English market. It was not until late 17th and early 18th centuries that fine quality wines began to be produced.

In this image only a small portion of the Landes Forest (dark green, left center) is visible. With its 1 million hectares the Landes Forest is the largest wooded area in Europe. Whereas it was a source of wooden supports for use in mining shafts, resins and paper pulp in the past, this region is now an important supplier of wooden building material, etc. Astonishing for this region of the Médoc district are immense irrigated farms which produce corn in monoculture (light green pockets).

The Médoc district is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a straight, sandy coastline (white line running north-south). This strip extends far to the southwest as Cap Ferret at the mouth of the Basin of Arcachon (black and gray, lower left), where oyster fishing is an important industry. Following the development of spas along the protected coasts of the Basin of Arcachon and Médoc lakes (lower left), tourism now plays a decisive role in the rejuvenation of commerce in the Gascogne region.


(Flying Camera Calendar, April 1999)

N 54o 18', E 013o 06'
13 June 1998, 14:00 h
ca. 1:12,000 to ca. 1:5,000
hg: ca. 2,000 m
Camera: ZEISS LMK 15, f: 152, 13mm
Film: AGFA Aviphot Chrome 200
upward: W

In 1293 Stralsund, which derives its name from its location on the Strela Sound (Strelasund), became a member of the Hanseatic League, thus entering into rivalry with other Hansa cities on the Baltic Sea, in particular with Lübeck, with which it has much in common architecturally. The feud between the two cities began very early when troops from Lübeck set fire to Stralsund, which was built entirely of wood at that time, in 1249. But Stralsund quickly recovered from the attack. Its citizens rebuilt the city with bricks, became clever and adroit merchants, and helped Stralsund to gain a strong position of power. In the "Peace of Stralsund" treaty drawn up with Denmark in 1370 the Hanseatic League strengthened its position of hegemony within northern Europe and Scandinavia. Even Wallenstein and his troops remained unsuccessful in their siege of the city and, thanks to the assistance given by Swedish troops, were forced to withdraw empty-handed. This support had, of course, its price, and Stralsund was ruled by Sweden for nearly 200 years until it fell to Prussia following heavy fighting with Napoleon's army in 1815.

The island which forms the heart of the old city of Stralsund is surronded by the Knieperteich and the Frankenteich, two large ponds, as well as by the Strela Sound. Numerous medieval, renaissance and baroque historic buildings are within short walking distance of the island. Two of the city's main attractions are the City Hall, begun in 1270 to resemble Lübeck's Rathaus, and the Church of St. Nicolai, dating from 1276, with its Gothic and baroque altars and the world's oldest astronomical clock, built in 1394 (top of center). The Johannis Monastery was built at approximately the same time and draws visitors to its baroque library and splendid rose gardens. Several 14th- to 18th-century townhouses which surround the old market square are also worth seeing, among them the so-called "Scheele House" in "Ferry Street" (Fährstraße), painted in a bright red and dating from the year 1350. This house bears the name of chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who was born there in 1742 and later emigrated to Gothenburg. Scheele is renowned for his discovery of the element oxygen, and scheelite, a source of tungsten and its compounds, is named after him. St. Katharine's Convent, now home to two museums, lies somewhat further to the southwest, as does the church of St. Mary. St. Mary's 104-m-high tower offers one of the most splendid views of the city of Stralsund and the island of Rügen.

Stralsund is connected to Rügen by the "Rügendamm", a rail and road embankment which was built in 1935. The harbor, once Stralsund's lifeline, now seems barren and sober with its cranes and shipyards. The waterfront comes to life only when ferries from Rügen and the smaller neighboring island of Hiddensee dock, and crowds of visitors flock from the promenade bordering the waterfront to the old city ramparts, which are now topped by roads and highways. But, in spite of the ravages of modern municipal development, many towers, battlement walks and watch towers which played an important role in the defense of the city are well preserved. On the outside of the old fortifications, between the ramparts and the Baltic, a sprawling green belt has grown up.


(Flying Camera Calendar, May 1999)

N 10o 15', E 044o 15'
15 May 1973
1:1,000,000 to ca. 1:350,000
hg: 930 km
Multispectral Scanner, Landsat, Bands: 4,2,1
upward: N

This Landsat image of the northwestern part of the Somalia is now satellite remote sensing history. Dating as it does from the second year of operation of the system, then called ERTS 1, it is evident that the system was limited in its ability to reproduce details. Red colors, however, clearly denote the transition from low-lying coastal semi-arid areas along the Gulf of Aden to dry savanna regions rising to the south. Dense, fresh vegetation is visible as bright red patches on mountain peaks at elevations of around 1600 m (right). These patches delineate topographic lines in highly dissected uplands underlain by sandy to clayey lower Cretaceous rocks to the southwest, and again appear as red patches in kilometer wide, branching valley floors, which drain to the southeast on the other side of a low water divide.

Even large cities, such as Berbera (right) with its more than 50,000 inhabitants and Hargeysa (lower center), the capital of the region with more than 100,000 inhabitants, are barely discernible. In addition to these cities, three other small coastal towns as well as very sparsely populated pastoral nomad territories, Guban in the north and Habrawa in the south, can also be seen.

Drainage systems are generally directed toward the north, forming a plain of alluvial fans up to 50 km wide south of the coastal barriers and terraces along the Gulf of Aden. Varying colors and closely spaced dissection patterns bear witness to the countless generations which have formed these barriers and terraces. Periodic water run-off toward the coast, as takes place today, follows a well-defined river bed (whitish in color) with numerous embankment and sand terrace systems. From time to time, this drainage pattern is lost beneath a fluvio-aeolian sand plain (whitish color, right). Bluish strips at its edge trace the paths of the northern monsoon.

This system of alluvial fans surrounds plateaus (black) which are composed of the heavily dissected erosion remnants of Tertiary basalts. Basaltic remnants are also visible in hilly areas to the south. These remnants are the eastern extensions of a volcanic system accompanying the opening of the East African Rift Zone and the Gulf of Aden. Within the transition from the coastal plain to the hilly country beyond, a mountain range, heavily folded parallel to the coast and dating from the Precambrian to the lower Cretaceous, is visible.

Old folded Precambrian rocks are found further to the southwest. This finely dissected area, stretching to the main water divide, is underlain by the soft lower Cretaceous beds described above. On the other side of the divide undissected areas interweave with younger dissections. The texture of these features, which break off sharply at the edges of the plateau, is characterized by the dry savanna vegetation arranged in parallel stripes. In West Africa this type of vegetation is known as "brousse tigrée" (tiger-stripe bushland).


(Flying Camera Calendar, June 1999)

N 46o 50', E 007o 10'
10 May 1993, 14:30 h
ca. 1:20,000 to ca. 1:8,000
hg: ca. 3,000 m
Camera: WILD RC f: 153 mm
Film: AGFA Aviphot Chrome 200
upward: N

Berthold IV, duke of Zähringen, founded the city of Fribourg in 1157 on a meander loop in La Sarine (Saane) River, which winds its way from lower left to upper right through the aerial photograph. The river cuts a path through 100 m of molasse plateau, shaping several terraces in the process. The old city (center right) is located on a 100-m-wide loop (center terrace) 40 m above the lower river bank (the Bourg); the Neuville, Auge and Planche (Matte) quarters form the lower part of the old city on the river flood plain. The city has grown on to the upper terrace (train station) and the surrounding molasse hills since the 14th century.

Parts of Fribourg's old city have been laid out in a geometric pattern. Three rows of houses run parallel in the Bourg and near the train station. Three rows of houses run parallel in the Bourg and near the train station. The Gambach quarter, also in the vicinity of the station, was built in a checkerboard pattern, and the Boulevard de Pérolles, leading south from the train station, forms a broad axis in the schematic design of the Pérolles quarter. The Pérolles quarter was built after the construction of the Pérolles dam (1870-73) and the ensuing first stages of industrialization in the city. Cables delivered hydraulic power to several factories located on the Plateau de Pérolles. Today the School of Engineering and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences are housed in the old industrial areas; further university building construction is planned. Of the city's former industrial base, only a coffee and chocolate factory and a brewery survive.

The regions between the Aare and Saane Rivers have been transitional zones between German and French cultures, between Alemanni and Burgundians, since the 5th century. This is most likely the reason that the city and canton of Fribourg have always been bilingual. Today approximately 70% of the city's 29,000 inhabitants speak French; slightly less than 30% speak German, and the remaining inhabitants speak numerous other languages. The city's multilingualism gives Fribourg a cosmopolitan flair, and its university is the only bilingual university in Europe.

The aerial photograph shows not only the city but also an agglomeration of villages and suburbs loosely grouped around its center: Marly to the south, Villars-sur-Glâne and Givisiez to the west, and Granges-Paccot to the north. These municipalities have absorbed the expanding population of the city and have become popular suburbs. Furthermore, they offer space for industries to settle (top) within close proximity of the highway from Bern to Geneva.


(Flying Camera Calendar, July 1999)

N 29o 20', E 112o 25'
ERS-1, 9 June 1993 and ERS-2, 1 August 1998
ca. 1:200,000
upward: N

For weeks on end millions of people in China fought a desperate battle to stave off floodwaters of the Yangtze River which had plagued the country since early July 1998. The devastation caused by this flooding is generally viewed to be the consequence of human activities such as the clearing of forests, construction of dams and the destruction of natural water reservoir areas.

Information concerning the extent of flooding in China was gathered by visibility independent radar sensors mounted on the European ERS-2 earth observation satellite and transmitted to a mobile satellite ground station operated by the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD), an institute of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This data was then georeferenced and enhanced at the German Remote Sensing Data Center to create a highly accurate composite image of the area with a resolution of 25 m (accuracy approx. 70 m).

The satellite image portrays an area approximately 100 km x 100 km in size located southwest of the industrial city of Wuhan. It is the composite result of the mulitemporal overlayering of satellite data, that is to say, images gathered at various points in time were combined to highlight rising water levels. An image taken on August 1, 1998, shows flood levels. Normal water levels, before flooding, are taken from ERS-1 data gathered on June 9, 1993, by the Japanese Hatoyama satellite station, and were subsequently processed by the European Space Agency (ESA), stored, and georeferenced by the DFD.

Information from the June 9, 1993, image is shown in green, red hues represent floodwater levels on August 1, 1998. In order to emphasize the extent of flooding, the difference between water levels on these dates is shown in blue. Areas which were covered with water on both dates, such as rivers, lakes, or cultivated areas are dark blue, particularly in the western portion of the image. In the eastern regions of the image, water-covered areas are reddish due to radar reflection on choppy water surfaces during windy conditions. The flood regions of Dongting Hu, a natural flood basin lake on the eastern edge of the image, and the eastern course of the Yangtze River to the north are not represented in blue shades. This is due to the fact that agricultural areas in the reference image, seen in gray, show values and structures similar to those caused by surface-water wind rippling in the August 1, 1998, image.


(Flying Camera Calendar, August 1999)

N 38o 33', W 0o 09'
16 July 1993, 12:45 h
ca. 1:40,000 ca. 1:15,000
hg: ca. 6,000 m
Camera: WILD RC-30, f: 151,92 mm
Film: AGFA Aviphot Chrome 200
upward: SW

The Costa Blanca has been invaded and inhabited by many different peoples in the course of its history. The original inhabitants, the Iberians, were displaced by Phoenicians in the 8th century B.C., who founded trading settlements. They were, in turn, followed by Greek merchants in the 7th century B.C., who brought the olive tree and grapevine to Iberia. Beginning in the middle of the 6th century Carthaginians founded large colonies along the coast. In the early 3rd century B.C. the Romans conquered the Spanish Mediterranean coast, where they stayed for the next 600 years. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. the coast fell under Byzantine influence, and Visigoths gained control in the 7th century A.D. In the early 8th century A.D. the region was incorporated into "al-Andalus", the Muslim-controlled portion of the Iberian Peninsula. In the 13th century, the Christian era began under the rule of the royal houses of Castile and Aragon, which were unified through the marriage of Ferdinand II and Isabella I (the "Catholic Kings") in 1474. Ferdinand and Isabella were able to drive the Muslims from Spain. This is commemorated during the festival of "Los Moros y Cristianos" which is celebrated with colorful parades in many cities of the province.

Crowds of tourists began to flock to the Costa Blanca about 30 years ago, attracted by the long white sandy beaches stretching along the Mediterranean coast of the province of Alicante. The quiet fishing village of Benidorm quickly became an important tourist resort. The old city with its narrow streets huddles atop a rock tongue, the "Balcon del Mediterranea", dividing two 5-km-long stretches of beach. This rock formation served as the foundation of a fortification which was destroyed by the Spanish and British in 1812 during the Spanish War of Liberation against the French. The fortification ruins afford a splendid view of the rocky wedge-shaped "Isla de Benidorm". The island is uninhabited and serves as a kind of bird preservation area. However, small boats regularly ferry tourists to the island. The northern stretch of beach, the "Playa de Levante", is surrounded by high-rise hotels and apartment complexes as well as by tourist attractions, amusement parks and fairgrounds. Nightclubs, shows and discotheques offer a wide spectrum of nightly entertainment. The "Playa de Poniente" south of the city offers more calm and quiet. Beyond "Montbenidorm", a rocky ledge, the village of La Cala and the "Playa de Cala" beach continue along the coast.

A highway has been built at the foot of the Sierra Helada coastal mountains parallel to the coastline and the national road to offer tourists easy access to the region. The highway exit leading to the national road is visible in the aerial photograph. An "Aqualandia" amusement park has been built nearby. Its various pools provide swimming fun for young and old alike.


(Flying Camera Calendar, September 1999)

1989 through 1991
ca. 1:7,000,000
hg: 850 km
NOAA-AVHRR(Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer)
upward: N

This satellite image mosaic was created at the German Remote Sensing Data Center, an institute of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), in Oberpfaffenhofen. Twelvve NOAA-11 AVHRR LAC (Local Area Coverage) data sets dating from 1989 to 1991 were combined to create this composite image. A digital land model and cloudless satellite images were required in order to calculate a realistic three-dimensional computer animation of the region. Patches of cloud cover can, however, still be seen on the island of Sri Lanka and the southern tip of the subcontinent; this is due to the limited number of images available for these areas. Varying observation conditions during the changing seasons can also lead to "sharp edges" on the image (for example, lower center, Sri Lanka).

The Indian subcontinent was thrust up against the Eurasian Plate during the process of alpidic orogenesis which began in the Paleogene and still continues today. The collision of the two continental crust plates formed the Himalayas. The border between the Indian and Eurasian plates runs directly south of the snow-capped mountain ranges seen in the image. To the north rises the Tibetan Plateau. Tibet's average elevation is approximately 5000 m. These unusually high altitudes are the result of very thick crust (approx.. 70 km) in the region. The Tibetan Plateau, with its large lakes, such as Tengri-nor (Namu Hu), is bordered by the peaks of the Kunlun Mountains to the north and by the Karakorum Range to the west (upper left). To the north of these mountain ranges the Takla Makan Desert is visible.

Northern India is dominated by the expansive plains of the Ganges-Brahmaputra lowlands (light green). West of Dhaka (Bangladesh) the Ganges River and the Brahmaputra River, which streams west and south from the Tibetan Plateau, join forces before emptying into the Gulf of Bengal. The estuarine delta, as is also the case with the deltas of the Naramada River on the Indian west coast and of the Irrawaddy and Salween Rivers in southern Burma, is characterized by brightly colored waters. Large amounts of suspended particles are carried by the rivers from the eroding Himalayas or from weathering tropical soils to the sea and deposited there. Bright green colors to the east towards Bangladesh, Burma and Thailand, represent thick vegetation predominant there.


(Flying Camera Calendar, October 1999)

N 52o 09', E 005o 23'
02 June 1997, 12:59 h
ca. 1:4,000 to ca. 1:1,500
hg: ca. 1,200 m
Camera: ZEISS RMK TOP 30, Film: Kodak Aerochrome MS 2448, f: 305,57 mm
upward: S

The city of Amersfoort is located in the central Netherlands and is named after a ford on the Eem (formerly Amer) River, which formed part of an old trade route leading from Deventer and Kampen to Utrecht. First reference was made of the settlement in 1028, and the city was granted its charter in 1259. By the Middle Ages Amersfoort had become a flourishing center of trade and industry, and was a member of the Hanseatic League.

City expansion had increased so far by the 14th century that Amersfoort bulged beyond the confines of its city walls. A second fortification wall was built between 1380 and 1450, with the result that Amersfoort became the only Dutch city with a double wall system. The outer wall was torn down in 1829; parks and a ring road surrounding the city were built in its place (top).

The aerial photograph shows the nearly complete circle of the old city center, dominated by the 100-m-high Tower of Our Lady, an imposing Gothic structure dating from the year 1471 (right center). At one time the Tower functioned as the bell tower of a church which was destroyed by an explosion in 1787. The foundation ruins of the church can be seen in the open area to the left of the Tower. Amersfoort's market square known as the "Hof", is located in the center of the old city (lower center). In the Middle Ages the lords of Amersfoort resided in a palace on the "Hof". The Romanesque Church of Sint Joris, with its three naves, is located next to the market square.

The only inner city wall gate which remains is the Kamperbinnenpoort, dating from the 14th century (lower left). Only small remnants of the old city walls are left. These remnants can be found inside the so-called wall houses (muurhuizen), which were built on the inside of the wall in a circle. When the second city wall was built in the 15th century the original wall no longer served its function as a fortification, and adjoining plots of land were sold by the city fathers. The new owners built their houses on the inner side of the old wall and planted small gardens on the outside of the wall, along the edge of the city moat. In recent years most of these houses have been restored, resulting in the creation of a picturesque city quarter with small courtyards, gardens, and narrow bridges crossing the old moat - truly unique in all of the Netherlands.


(Flying Camera Calendar, November 1999)

N 47o 40', E 009o 20'
02 September 1984
ca. 1:600,000 to ca. 1:130,000
hg: 750 km
Thematic Mapper (TM), Landsat 4
upward: NE

Lake Constance traces its origins to the last Ice Age, when its basin was carved out by the ice masses of the Pleistocene Rhine glacier. The lake then took on its current form when ice of the glacier melted approximately 10,000 years ago. Lake Constance has a surface area of 539 square km and a maximum depth of 252 m. The lake's main body, the "Obersee" (476 square km), which was known as "Lacus Brigantinus" by the Romans, is 45 km long, stretching from Bregenz in the east to Konstanz (Constance) in the west. Lake Constance and its environs have been inhabited from Neolithic times. Stone and Bronze Age "pole construction" peoples were followed by Celts and Romans and, after 260 A.D., by the Alemanni. Merovingian and Carolingian settlements and monasteries were established there in the early Middle Ages.

The "Swabian Sea"' has been referred to by German speakers as the "Bondensee" (probably derived from the Carolingian imperial palatinate of Bodman) only since the14th century, whereas it is referred to by the name given by the Staufer dynasty "Lacus Constaniensis"/ "Lac de Constance" throughout the rest of the world. Characteristic of the island and harbor city of Lindau, located on the upper shore of Lake Constance opposite the point where the Rhine enters the lake, are its patrician houses which bear witness to bygone periods of prosperity and flourishing trade. Friedrichshafen, which was founded in 1811 by the Württemberg King Frederick I, lies further to the west. In the years following 1908 Friedrichshafen gained a worldwide reputation as the city in which zeppelins were built. To the west the lake is divided into two parts by the Bodanrück mountain ridge. The northern basin, the "Überlinger See" (61 square km), is flanked by the cities of Meersburg and Überlingen, a spa which is auspiciously located along the old Ulm - Constance trade route. The island of Mainau on the south shore is famous for its flowers. The southern basin, the "Untersee" (63 square km), stretches from the old diocesan city of Constance, with its historical old city, to the town of Stein am Rhein. The island of Reichenau, home to numerous monasteries and a flourishing vegetable production, has been connected to the mainland by a causeway since 1838. The Gnadensee and the Zeller See are located to the north and northwest.

The Rhine River, approaching from the south, flows into the Obersee to the west of Bregenz. Between Konstanz and Kreuzlingen the river flows into the "Untersee" and flows out of the Lake Constance near Stein am Rhein as the "Seerhein". The old river course with all its turns and bends is still easily recognized, even though the Alpine Rhine valley (lower right) is very densely populated. The curving "old" Rhine forms a delta, which advances into the lake at a rate of approximately 20 m annually. A new flatfloored section of the Rhine, the "Alpine Rhine" was dug and its banks reinforced in 1900 to prevent flooding. It flows into the lake further to the east as a second tributary of Lake Constance. The peaks of Mount Säntis (2502 m) rise majestically to the west of the Alpine Rhine valley, to the east the Bregenz Forest is visible.

Lake Constance functions as a natural reservoir, allowing only moderate amounts of water to pass into the "Seerhein" near Stein am Rhein, even at high water. The lake also stores and reflects heat, contributing to the fertility of its fruit-growing and wine production areas in neighboring regions and, in particular, on its islands.


(Flying Camera Calendar, December 1999)

N 18o 48', W 099o 16'
07 January 1997, 16:00 h
ca. 1:5,000 ca. 1:2,000
hg: ca. 800 m
Camera: ZEISS RMK TOP 15/23, f: 153,97 mm
Film: Kodak Aerochrome MS 2448
upward: W

The pyramids of Xochicalco are located approximately 30 km southwest of the city of Cuernavaca in Morelos state. Morelos, with an area of some 4,950 square km, is the second smallest of Mexico's 31 states and lies between 1000 m and 3300 m elevation. Morelos is one of the most densely populated areas of Mexico and directly borders the largest metropolis in the world, Mexico City, to the north.

Cuernavaca itself, the state capital, has over a half a million inhabitants. Thanks to its ideal climate, with mean annual temperatures of around 25oC, and its superhighway connections with Mexico City, Cuernavaca is a favorite relaxation spot for harried big city dwellers. Archeologists estimate that Morelos has been inhabited for the last 3500 years as a consequence of its ideal climatic conditions. The Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortéz conquered Cuernavaca and its surrounding territories in 1521, before continuing on to conquer the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, later the site of Mexico City.

Xochicalco, the "City of Flowers", was built upon a hill, the crest of which was razed so that the temple could be built there. This well-planned complex, with the Pyramid of the "Feathered Serpent", the observatory and three ball courts, can be seen in this aerial photograph. Although the first monumental structures can be traced back to the pre-Classic periods, lasting from 900 to 800 B.C., Xochicalco achieved its greatest cultural importance between 700 and 900 A.D. Strategically located as it is between the central highlands and the Pacific coast, Xochicalco became one of the most important urban centers in Mesoamerica, particularly after the conquest of Teotihuacán and its temples, the largest in Mexico.

Various highly sophisticated Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Olmecs, Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Mayas and Aztecs, were blended in Xochicalco. And it was in Xochicalco where the most highly developed system of hieroglyphic writing in the entire Mexican highlands was discovered. At its height, Xochicalco was an important center for military, trade, cultural and scientific activities. In the observatory an 8-m-deep vertical tunnel leading to a cave was dug. Twice each year, on May 15 and July 29, the sun shines through the tunnel directly into the cave, which is part of an artificial system of caves. Although the exact purpose of this tunnel is not clear, it is assumed that Mesoamerican astronomers met regularly in Xochicalco to improve the accuracy of the Mayan calendar and to pursue other studies.

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Last Reviewed: January 14, 2003