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.
Mid-Summer Auroras
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Mid-Summer Auroras

Solar storms smacked into Earth’s magnetic field and provoked auroras over the southern and northern hemisphere just after the summer solstice.

Published Jun 28, 2015

Image of the Day Atmosphere Unique Imagery

Night-Shining Clouds
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Night-Shining Clouds

High-altitude clouds appeared as far south as the continental United States in early June 2015.

Published Jun 19, 2015

Image of the Day Remote Sensing

Just Another Night Over Java
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Just Another Night Over Java

This astronaut photograph includes lights from several sources: cities, roads, fishing boats, gas flares, lightning, and even glowing air.

Published May 30, 2015

Image of the Day Atmosphere Human Presence

Scandinavia at Night
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Scandinavia at Night

City lights trace the coastlines, while moonlight illuminates the snow and clouds.

Published May 11, 2015

Image of the Day Human Presence

Power Outages Plague Nepal
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Power Outages Plague Nepal

Darkness descended on much of Nepal after a powerful earthquake rattled the country’s already stressed electrical grid.

Published May 2, 2015

Image of the Day Human Presence Earthquakes

Cairo at Night
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Cairo at Night

Home to one-fifth of Egypt’s population, it is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa’s second largest.

Published Apr 6, 2015

Image of the Day Land Human Presence

Looking Down and Up at the Aurora
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Looking Down and Up at the Aurora

On Saint Patrick’s Day, the Suomi NPP satellite acquired a view of the aurora from above while citizen scientists were busily collecting shots from below.

Published Mar 29, 2015

Image of the Day Atmosphere Unique Imagery Remote Sensing

Texas and the Gulf at Night
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Texas and the Gulf at Night

Cities, moonlight, and fossil-fuel industries frame the Gulf of Mexico with light.

Published Mar 23, 2015

Image of the Day Life Human Presence

Eastern Canada, Day and Night
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Eastern Canada, Day and Night

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took these midwinter panoramas of the St. Lawrence River and surrounding cities.

Published Feb 16, 2015

Image of the Day Land Water Human Presence Snow and Ice

India by Night and Day
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India by Night and Day

Two photos, taken 48 years apart, provide contrasting views of southern Asia.

Published Jan 26, 2015

Image of the Day Land Human Presence

The Electric Eye of Cyclone Bansi
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The Electric Eye of Cyclone Bansi

Lightning illuminated the center of the storm as the space station flew over at night.

Published Jan 25, 2015

Image of the Day Atmosphere

The Lights of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
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The Lights of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

According to satellite data, nighttime lights in some Middle Eastern cities shine more than 50 percent brighter during Ramadan than during the rest of the year.

Published Jan 1, 2015

Image of the Day Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

Bursting with Holiday Energy
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Bursting with Holiday Energy

Satellites detect increases in lighting around the holidays, particularly in suburbs and rural areas. While the trend says interesting things about culture, it also tells us something important about energy use.

Published Dec 25, 2014

Image of the Day Unique Imagery Human Presence Remote Sensing

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