Night lights in Google Maps

» New: Click here to get night-lights images of countries and continents as wallpaper for your PC «

The Earth Observation Group (at the Colorado School of Mines, formerly at the US National Centers for Environmental Information) has long created night-lights maps of Earth (downloadable here) by combining satellite data, which this site aims to make available using Google Maps' API while Google doesn't incorporate this into their own offer.

Until 2011 saw the launch of a new satellite, these night-lights mosaic pictures relied on technology from the 1970s (2.7 km per pixel). In 2012, NASA 'beautified' a mosaic of the new satellite sensor's images (0.7 km per pixel) by colouring them yellow and putting them on a blue daytime background. While the resulting picture (see "2012", downloadable here) shows even villages' lights, subtle differences in cities are lost. Hence, the more recent imagery converted for this site (see "2017" and later) uses a different brightness mapping.

Make your choice using the following example pictures showing the eastern Mediterranean and the south-west of London:


Averaged over April and October 2012


Averaged over 2017


Averaged over 2019


Averaged over 2020


Averaged over March 2021
(has occluded areas)

While the above is unparalleled on a global scale, the astronauts on the ISS have taken some fascinating photos at a higher resolution and with original colour like this one showing that Berlin is still divided in terms of street lighting...

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