Ok, maybe not a secret but a very powerful and functionality-rich app from Microsoft Research, World Wide Telescope is almost a Google Earth on steroids but for which you hardly ever hear about:
From web to desktop to full dome planetarium, WorldWide Telescope (WWT) enables you to explore the universe, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world and combining it with 3D navigation.
And it also includes an add-in for Excel where in theory (it didn’t work for me) you can visualize lon/lat temporal data from your Excel spreadsheet.
As they put it on the LayerScape website:
Suppose you have spatial data that is time-tagged, so your minimum data set is a location—latitude and longitude—and a date. And suppose your data is in an Excel spreadsheet. By installing the WorldWide Telescope Add-in for Excel, you can highlight and “push” your data into the visualization environment in seconds. Update your data, and the visualization updates automatically. Save the data, send it to a colleague, and they can see what you’re working on and add their data. The collaboration possibilities are many after just a few minutes of learning about the new Excel ribbon.
Some pretty interesting stuff. Just wondering why Microsoft hasn’t made any more fuss about it.