Earth at Night

Satellite images of Earth at night have been a curiosity for the public and a tool of fundamental research for at least 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness.
The Perry Fire by Day and Night
Image

The Perry Fire by Day and Night

The fire was not the largest or most destructive in July 2018, but the position of its smoke allowed for a clear look at the progression of the burn.

Published Jul 30, 2018

Land Fires Human Presence Remote Sensing

County Fire Lights Up the Night
Image

County Fire Lights Up the Night

As smoke streamed toward San Francisco, more than 1,000 fire personnel were at the scene fighting the blaze.

Published Jul 4, 2018

Image of the Day Atmosphere Land Fires Human Presence Remote Sensing

The Infrared Glow of Kilauea’s Lava Flows
Image

The Infrared Glow of Kilauea’s Lava Flows

This false-color image shows the infrared signal emitted by fresh lava flowing toward the sea.

Published May 26, 2018

Image of the Day Volcanoes Human Presence Remote Sensing

Fishing in Green, Living in Yellow
Image

Fishing in Green, Living in Yellow

Thailand and Cambodia have distinctly different hues at night compared to nearby seas.

Published May 14, 2018

Image of the Day Land Water Human Presence

Sun Sends an Early Earth Day Greeting
Image

Sun Sends an Early Earth Day Greeting

The Suomi NPP satellite captured a glimpse of the northern lights over North America.

Published Apr 24, 2018

Image of the Day Atmosphere Remote Sensing

Urban Patterns in Snow and Light
Image

Urban Patterns in Snow and Light

In central China, the human footprint brightens the night and dulls the snowscape.

Published Jan 16, 2018

Image of the Day Land Life Human Presence

New Year’s Night
Image

New Year’s Night

City lights shone brightly in the United States as revelers welcomed the new year.

Published Jan 2, 2018

Atmosphere Land Unique Imagery Human Presence

Observing Changes in Nighttime Lights
Image

Observing Changes in Nighttime Lights

Tracking the brightness and location of manmade lights offers researchers an innovative way to track human activity on a global scale.

Published Dec 27, 2017

Image of the Day Land Life Human Presence Remote Sensing

Fast-Moving Fire Sweeps Through Ventura County
Image

Fast-Moving Fire Sweeps Through Ventura County

Wildfires continue to menace Southern California.

Published Dec 8, 2017

Image of the Day Land Fires Human Presence Remote Sensing

Night Lights of the Levant
Image

Night Lights of the Levant

Alternating clusters of light and darkness show where civilization has carved out a place alongside and amidst the deserts.

Published Dec 11, 2017

Image of the Day

Wildfire Lights Up Ventura
Image

Wildfire Lights Up Ventura

Powerful Santa Ana winds fueled the destructive blaze.

Published Dec 5, 2017

Land Fires Human Presence

Pinpointing Where Lights Went Out in Puerto Rico
Image

Pinpointing Where Lights Went Out in Puerto Rico

Satellite data on city lights could aid rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

Published Sep 29, 2017

Image of the Day Severe Storms Human Presence Remote Sensing

Hurricane Irma Strengthens
Image

Hurricane Irma Strengthens

Growing to a category 5 storm, Hurricane Irma is among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever observed.

Published Sep 5, 2017

Atmosphere Land Water Severe Storms Human Presence

Franklin Storms Over Mexico
Image

Franklin Storms Over Mexico

The storm became the Atlantic Ocean basin’s first hurricane of 2017.

Published Aug 10, 2017

Atmosphere Severe Storms

Lights Out in Hatteras
Image

Lights Out in Hatteras

A power outage brought darkness to parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Published Jul 31, 2017

Human Presence Remote Sensing

Fires Light Up Mount Vesuvius
Image

Fires Light Up Mount Vesuvius

Several fires that burned around the volcano took a toll on the forests of Vesuvius National Park.

Published Jul 16, 2017

Image of the Day Fires Remote Sensing

Wildfires Light Up Portugal
Image

Wildfires Light Up Portugal

The blaze burned so brightly that its light was visible at night from space.

Published Jun 20, 2017

Image of the Day Heat Fires Human Presence

The Glow of the Indus River Basin
Image

The Glow of the Indus River Basin

People have been farming the fertile flood plain for millennia.

Published Jun 22, 2017

Image of the Day Land Human Presence Remote Sensing

An Odd Symmetry: Argentina After Dark
Image

An Odd Symmetry: Argentina After Dark

Connect the dots and history emerges.

Published May 23, 2017

Image of the Day Land Human Presence Remote Sensing

Night Lights Change in the Middle East
Image

Night Lights Change in the Middle East

Changing patterns of nighttime lights are of great interest to demographers, engineers, and humanitarian relief organizations.

Published May 16, 2017

Image of the Day Land Human Presence Remote Sensing

Iceland at Night
Image

Iceland at Night

Nighttime lights how the Icelandic landscape influences where people live.

Published May 12, 2017

Image of the Day Land Human Presence Snow and Ice

The I-95 Corridor at Night
Image

The I-95 Corridor at Night

A nearly uninterrupted string of lights stretches from Philadelphia to Hartford.

Published May 1, 2017

Image of the Day Land Human Presence

Night Light Maps Open Up New Applications
Image

Night Light Maps Open Up New Applications

By removing natural and stray light sources, researchers get a clearer picture of the human footprint on Earth.

Published Apr 13, 2017

Image of the Day Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Earth at Night
Article

Earth at Night

Satellite images of Earth at night have been a curiosity for the public and a tool of fundamental research for at least 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness.

Published Apr 12, 2017

Atmosphere Land Human Presence Remote Sensing

Finding Fires Before They Rage
Image

Finding Fires Before They Rage

Scientists have found a way to detect nighttime fires even sooner, when they are still relatively small.

Published Apr 7, 2017

Image of the Day Atmosphere Land Remote Sensing

Etna Erupts
Image

Etna Erupts

The volcano produced streams of lava in March 2017.

Published Mar 23, 2017

Heat Volcanoes Human Presence Remote Sensing

Sky Aglow Over Antarctica
Image

Sky Aglow Over Antarctica

A satellite detected the visible light produced by electrically charged particles hitting the atmosphere—also known as the aurora australis.

Published Mar 21, 2017

Atmosphere Unique Imagery

Nighttime Glow at Mount Etna
Image

Nighttime Glow at Mount Etna

Hot lava is visible at the summit of Sicily's Mount Etna during a recent bout of activity.

Published Mar 16, 2017

Heat Land Volcanoes

Naples and Mount Vesuvius at Night
Image

Naples and Mount Vesuvius at Night

Millennia of human development stand alongside mainland Europe’s only active volcano.

Published Mar 6, 2017

Image of the Day Human Presence

Houston at Night
Image

Houston at Night

Astronauts on the Space Station had a glowing view of their professional home, as well as the site of Super Bowl 51.

Published Feb 4, 2017

Image of the Day Land Human Presence Remote Sensing