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.
Even from Space, Holidays Shine Brightly
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Even from Space, Holidays Shine Brightly

Satellite data reveals increases in December holiday lighting in the United States, mostly in the suburbs.

Published Dec 17, 2014

Image of the Day Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Holiday Lights in the US Southeast
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Holiday Lights in the US Southeast

Satellite sensors detect increases in December holiday lighting in the United States, particularly in the suburbs and rural areas.

Published Dec 16, 2014

Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Holiday Lights of the American Southwest
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Holiday Lights of the American Southwest

Satellite sensors detect increases in December holiday lighting in the United States, particularly in the suburbs and rural areas.

Published Dec 16, 2014

Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Holiday Lights are Bright Deep in the Heart of Texas
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Holiday Lights are Bright Deep in the Heart of Texas

Satellite sensors detect increases in December holiday lighting in the United States, particularly in the suburbs and rural areas.

Published Dec 16, 2014

Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Florida at Night
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Florida at Night

The peninsula is highly recognizable even at night, especially when looking north, as our map-trained brains expect.

Published Nov 17, 2014

Image of the Day Land Water Human Presence

The Many Colors of Electric Lights
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The Many Colors of Electric Lights

Distinct colors mark the communities and commerce along the Tsushima Strait, between Japan and South Korea.

Published Oct 19, 2014

Image of the Day Human Presence Remote Sensing

The Koreas at Night
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The Koreas at Night

Night lights illustrate dramatically the relative economic activity of cities and countries.

Published Feb 24, 2014

Image of the Day Human Presence

Gas Flaring in Iraq
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Gas Flaring in Iraq

An astronaut snapped this image of lines of gas flares at an oilfield in southern Iraq at night.

Published Feb 22, 2014

Image of the Day Human Presence

Lighting the Paths Across the U.S.
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Lighting the Paths Across the U.S.

Satellite views of night lights help reveal the strings of roads, rails, and rivers than connect the citizens of the United States.

Published Nov 26, 2013

Image of the Day Unique Imagery Human Presence

Train Derailment and Fire, Lac Mégantic, Quebec
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Train Derailment and Fire, Lac Mégantic, Quebec

Early in the morning on July 6, 2013, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

Published Jul 10, 2013

Image of the Day Unique Imagery Human Presence

Phoenix Metropolitan Area at Night
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Phoenix Metropolitan Area at Night

Several Arizona cities and suburbs merge in a distinctive Western U.S. grid pattern.

Published Apr 1, 2013

Image of the Day Human Presence

Extensive Ice Fractures in the Beaufort Sea
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Extensive Ice Fractures in the Beaufort Sea

A combination of winds, currents, storms, and young ice came together to produce a wave of fractures in Arctic sea ice off the coast of northern Alaska.

Published Mar 29, 2013

Image of the Day Snow and Ice

Winter Storm across Central United States
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Winter Storm across Central United States

Acquired in the early morning of February 23, 2013, this nighttime image shows snow cover spanning multiple states in the wake of a major snowstorm.

Published Feb 26, 2013

Image of the Day Severe Storms Snow and Ice

Nighttime View of Snow across the United States
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Nighttime View of Snow across the United States

In February 2013, a winter storm brought more than a foot of snow to many towns and cities across the central United States.

Published Feb 22, 2013

Land Severe Storms Snow and Ice

Mustang Complex Fires in Idaho
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Mustang Complex Fires in Idaho

Numerous hot spots from the Mustang Complex Fire are visible in northern Idaho. A plume of thick, billowing smoke streams west from the brightest fires near the Idaho-Montana border.

Published Feb 19, 2013

Image of the Day Heat Land Fires Unique Imagery

Reno, Nevada, at Night
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Reno, Nevada, at Night

“The biggest little city in the world” is nestled like a jewel amidst the mountains.

Published Feb 11, 2013

Image of the Day Land Human Presence

Marine Layer Clouds off the California Coast
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Marine Layer Clouds off the California Coast

The Suomi NPP VIIRS “day-night band” makes it possible to view low clouds even at night—something earlier satellites have had difficulty doing.

Published Jan 22, 2013

Image of the Day Atmosphere Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence

Liège at Night
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Liège at Night

This city in Belgium is a hub of economic activity and tourism.

Published Jan 14, 2013

Image of the Day Life Human Presence

Waves in Airglow
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Waves in Airglow

During a thunderstorm over Texas, atmospheric ripples were visible in the faint emissions of light of the upper atmosphere.

Published Jan 10, 2013

Image of the Day Atmosphere Fires Unique Imagery Remote Sensing

Moon Phases Over the Persian Gulf
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Moon Phases Over the Persian Gulf

These satellite images illustrate the effects of moonlight on viewing this desert region.

Published Jan 2, 2013

Image of the Day Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Auroras Light Up the Antarctic Night
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Auroras Light Up the Antarctic Night

The “southern lights” were bright enough to illuminate the ice below.

Published Jan 1, 2013

Image of the Day Atmosphere Fires Unique Imagery Snow and Ice Remote Sensing

City Lights Illuminate the Nile
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City Lights Illuminate the Nile

At night, the Nile River Valley and Delta resemble a giant flower in this image from October 13, 2012.

Published Dec 28, 2012

Image of the Day Land Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence

Gas Drilling, North Dakota
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Gas Drilling, North Dakota

Cities and people are scarce in northwestern North Dakota, but nighttime satellite imagery shows the Bakken Formation aglow with brightly-lit drilling equipment.

Published Dec 27, 2012

Image of the Day Land Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence

City Lights of the United States 2012
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City Lights of the United States 2012

Updated for 2012, this map of lights across America has a least 10 times better resolution than previous maps.

Published Dec 25, 2012

Image of the Day Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence

Monitoring the Arctic during Polar Darkness
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Monitoring the Arctic during Polar Darkness

Acquired October 30, 2012, this day-night band image offers a detailed view of clouds, snow cover, and sea ice.

Published Dec 23, 2012

Image of the Day Atmosphere Land Water Fires Unique Imagery Snow and Ice

City Lights of Australia, or Not
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City Lights of Australia, or Not

What are those lights in the Outback?

Published Dec 20, 2012

Image of the Day Land Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Korea and the Yellow Sea
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Korea and the Yellow Sea

While city lights at night serve as a good proxy for population density, North Korea provides a dark exception.

Published Dec 18, 2012

Image of the Day Land Water Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence

Old Night Vision Meets New
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Old Night Vision Meets New

New images from Suomi NPP are an order of magnitude better than previous satellite views of city lights.

Published Dec 14, 2012

Image of the Day Land Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

City Lights of South America’s Atlantic Coast
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City Lights of South America’s Atlantic Coast

Night life takes on a new meaning when viewed from space.

Published Dec 9, 2012

Image of the Day Land Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Night Lights 2012 - The Black Marble
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Night Lights 2012 - The Black Marble

This animated globe shows the city lights of the world as they appeared to the new Suomi NPP satellite, which has at least 10 times better light-resolving power than previous night-viewing satellites.

Published Dec 6, 2012

Image of the Day Land Water Fires Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing