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The "Blue Marble" photograph of the Earth was taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on December 7, 1972.  NASA-NOAA has released "Black Marble - City Lights 2012", a Flickr slideshow of images taken by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP).

This is one of the images.  For the rest of the slide show and higher resolution images, check out this link.

Black Marble - City Lights 2012

There is also a Youtube video of a full revolution

This link to a NASA press release has higher resolutions and other views taken by the Suomi NPP satellite.

NASA-NOAA Satellite Reveals New Views of Earth at Night - 12.05.12

Scientists unveiled today an unprecedented new look at our planet at night. A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.
Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth's atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.

The new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea. Satellites in the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have been making observations with low-light sensors for 40 years. But the VIIRS day-night band can better detect and resolve Earth's night lights.

Link to NASA Earth Observatory Feature Art webpage with more images and videos.

Earth at Night 2012: It’s the end of the night as you know it; you’ll see fine.

Suomi isn't all about pretty pictures.  It was able to image Hurricane Sandy at night illuminated by moonlight before it hit the coast.

Overnight view of Hurricane Sandy

I have always enjoyed the night sky.  I was born in 1955 and lived on a dairy farm in Kansas before leaving for college.  Back then, none of the farms were lit at night, so a clear sky showed the Milky Way in all it's splendor.  Later in High School, one of the farms installed a mercury vapor light, and the other farmers had to keep up with the Joneses.  Since then, it has been harder and harder to find a spot dark enough to enjoy a meteor shower or any other event in space.  Now, NASA shows just how difficult it has become to avoid the light pollution.

I watched this being reported on BBC World News, December 6, 2012 on my local PBS station and thought that it was worth sharing on Daily Kos.  BBC posted this on their website.

Suomi satellite pictures Earth in black

After commenting on it in an Open Thread, I was asked to turn it into a diary.  I had hoped that someone who could add some value to these images would have written about them, so please comment and include any corrections that should be made to this diary.

Originally posted to rja on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:35 PM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos.


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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm just cutting and pasting (39+ / 0-)

    Please add some useful comments with actual information.

    And I hope that I haven't mixed up the words diary and dairy again.

    "And if you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, ..., here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions." -- President Obama, 10/19/2012, George Mason University

    by rja on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:16:35 PM PST

  •  Very cool stuff. (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting this.

    "Differences in political opinion are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary." George Washington

    by civil wingnut on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:45:43 PM PST

  •  The views of Earth are beautiful. (7+ / 0-)

    At the end of your NASA-NOAA link dated 12-5-12 is a video worth seeing. I took the liberty of posting this Youtube version. I hope that is ok. I suggest viewers play it full screen and switch the little gear ✱ button to a higher quality setting if their internet speed is fast enough.
    Thank you for the gorgeous diary.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~ Ben Franklin

    by jim in IA on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:54:31 PM PST

  •  Have you seen the ISS night video? (7+ / 0-)

    In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

    by Troubadour on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 05:03:18 PM PST

  •  When I See These Night Photos I Wonder ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If NASA Has Superimposed Images Of The Land Masses to The Photos.

    For totally black oceans and I would think totally black areas of land, I can see faintly something and have to ask:

    Are the photos the actual photos without any superimposed images of the land?

    Why isn't the land's blackness also the same for the ocean's blackness?  

    On a moonless night, what would provide the light to faintly illuminate the land?

    Just wondering.

    I think your first photo is what I would expect.

    •  Like all full-Earth space photos, a composite (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rja, skyounkin

      It's composited from hundreds of photos taken over a span of time which could be weeks or months, and they take the suitable ones and digitally 'stitch' them together.

      Remember, you no longer should think of photos as 'film'. In today's digital world there are endless possibilities.

      "Marco Rubio es un pañuelo Rosa!" - Montgomery Burns

      by Fordmandalay on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:24:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that even these photos are composites (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But not in the sense that you are thinking.

        I think that the photos are taken from from only 800 km and it would not be far enough to see earth as a full earth view.

        These full-Earth space photos are an extension of NASA's Blue Marble Next Generation work.

        ....... In 1972, from a distance of about 45,000 km (28,000 mi), the crew of Apollo 17 took one of the most famous photographs ever made of the Earth. This original Blue Marble inspired later images of the Earth compiled from satellite data. .....
               emphasis mine

        So I think NASA is making these composite photos using the famous 1972 photo as a template.

        = = => My original question on this thread was questioning the faint images of land masses on these photos.

  •  Hmmmm - I love the night (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The day is ok and the sun can be fun
    but I live to see those rays
    slip away.....

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 05:25:19 PM PST

  •  I forgot to add Google Earth map file (6+ / 0-)

    You can download an Google Earth file (KLM) which adds the Suomi images.  That way, you can pinpoint where you are, add country and state boarders, etc.  I have been spinning the planet tiping it around to see where the lights are.

    If you have a slow computer, you will need to wait for it to load up, but I think that it is worth it.

    Black Marble Google Earth KLM file (96.5KB)

    The KLM is on this page with other nice high resolution images.

    Night Lights 2012 - The Black Marble

    And a discussion at Google Earth Blog about it.

    Google Earth Blog - Black Marble

    "And if you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, ..., here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions." -- President Obama, 10/19/2012, George Mason University

    by rja on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 05:30:41 PM PST

  •  A diagnostic snapshot of Planet Earth (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rja, raincrow, Burned

    Our planet is infected with an energy eating virus with particularly high concentrations in one nation state.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:26:09 PM PST

  •  Fear of a Black Planet! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rja, raincrow

    See what Obama has done???

    Honestly, that PE album was the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo.

    "Marco Rubio es un pañuelo Rosa!" - Montgomery Burns

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:26:31 PM PST

  •  Northern Italy is bright and France is dark ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:32:08 PM PST

  •  Beautiful images (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rja, raincrow, 417els

    Thank you for starting this diary, and I enjoyed the 5 minute video of the ISS flyovers.

    One of my favorite 'apps' on my smartphone is the APOD, Astronomy Picture of the Day, hosted by NASA.

    I hope I placed this link correctly...
    Astronomy Picture of the Day-NASA

    Forget Occam's Razor, try hitting them with Darwin's Hammer!

    by Munynn on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:35:01 PM PST

  •  BTW, note the hurricane off Florida in the pic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wonder which one that was?

    "Marco Rubio es un pañuelo Rosa!" - Montgomery Burns

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:36:29 PM PST

  •  So gorgeous to shine our lights toward the stars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    417els, rja

    But think how much money, CO2, wildlife, and human health we could save if we weren't spewing so many photons out into space, How many birds, sea turtles, moths, etc., would have no problem navigating as they evolved to navigate without all that spurious light? How many fewer reproductive cancers, sleep disorders, mood disorders, and other health issues would humans develop if city dwellers weren't marinated all night in excessive light? If we lighted only what needs lighting -- not the woods, not the upper floors of adjoining buildings, not the neighbors' bedroom and living room and front yard, not the eyes of drivers and pedestrians and public safety workers, not the sky above the billboard -- if we didn't grossly over-illuminate with our new LED technologies, if we used full-cutoff fixtures with reflective inside surfaces so we could use much lower wattage lamps/LEDs, if we used motion-triggered security lighting instead of always-on lighting (studies on 3 continents having proven the former far superior in reducing burglary and vandalism than the latter) -- we could reduce our energy footprint 40-60%, maybe more.

    And most of the planet, even city dwellers, could look up at night and see the Milky Way again.

    Compare: Toronto suburb during and after the massive Aug 2003 blackout...


    by raincrow on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:04:05 PM PST

    •  14 years ago, we took 2 of our nieces with us (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, rja, My Spin

      to the UK.  Teenagers.  We spent a few days on the south coast of the Isle of Wight.  Looking out over thousands of miles of the open North Atlantic...absolutely no light pollution from land or sea.

      It staggered even me. I had forgotten how astounding  the night sky was when I was young.  Our nieces were speechless.  They lay on a slope and stared at the heavens until dawn.

      It made me so homesick.  For what I'll never see again where it once was seen, even though it's permanent and still exists.  The invisible magnificence.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:35:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So beautifully said, 417els (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rja, 417els

        I do keep reminding myself: light pollution is the one type of pollution we can EASILY remedy.


        by raincrow on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 09:04:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you, raincrow. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rja, raincrow

          Light pollution could be remedied, but I question the will to do it.  We're as addicted to illumination as we are to our exclusively personal vehicles.  We're afraid of darkness...scary things go on in darkness.  The goblins 'ill get cha if you don't look out.

          Another is noise pollution.  After 9/11 when all air traffic was grounded, the silence stood out and it was exquisite. Many people have never experienced freedom from man made silence interspersed only with sounds of nature.

          "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

          by 417els on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:57:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lighting the sky doesn't make us safe (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rja, 417els

            and cities, counties, provinces, etc., around the world have passed dark-skies zoning ordinances that have improved their livability cred and cut the taxpayer tab for night lighting without sacrificing public safety.

            Proper lighting doesn't have to leave us in the dark. A lot of municipalities use very tall light poles, widely spaced, with "cobra head" glarebomb fixtures. Good lighting requires full-cutoff fixtures on more and lower poles to deliver the same light intensity and ground coverage. But the $$ you invest in poles and holes is paid back by energy savings.

            Dark-skies municipalities also require new parking lots to use border placement of luminaires to keep light from spilling off the property. Light runoff is considered just as undesirable as silt or water runoff.

            If my security light shines in the trees and the upper floor of my house, there's nothing to see up there that is going to make me safer (unless I suddenly find myself in a Mission Impossible or Spiderman movie), so there's no need to light it all up. Night Watchman-style glarebomb lights can be retrofitted with shields to reduce runoff onto adjacent properties.

            Full-cutoff porch lights light the porch. Driveways can be lit with a series of low-wattage, 12" - 18" luminaires, solar or mains powered. If you use your yard at night in ways that require flood lighting, mount the floods where they don't shine off the property, shield them so they don't try to light the sky, and put them on timers.

            Years of studies in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia show that always-on lights just help the bad guys see where they're going as they steal your stuff, whereas motion-activated lighting is not nearly so cooperative.

            Upward-facing billboard lights are easier and safer to maintain, but they waste energy and add to skyglow. Top-mounted lighting, properly shielded to prevent spillage onto roadways, is less polluting.

            International Dark-Sky Assoc.

            Dark Sky Festival, Harmony, FL

            International Dark Sky communities

            Palm Beach attempts to control light pollution that endangers sea turtles


            by raincrow on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:29:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And yes, noise, yet another pollution frontier (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rja, 417els

              and a much tougher nut to crack.

              Battery operated vehicles (which are so quiet they give the visually impaired almost no warning of approach). Heating/cooling solutions that get rid of elbenty gabillion damned heat pump heat exchangers grinding away day and night all across the country. Setting every leaf blower on earth on FIRE (do I sound hostile?) -- if you're going to walk slowly and swing your arms, why not do so with a nice quiet rake??! More research into quieter tire tread designs and road surfaces.

              I wonder what our massive use of the electromagnetic spectrum is doing to various lifeforms (including ourselves) and biomes?


              by raincrow on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:46:48 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  It saddens me to see how much light pollution.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...We have of the night sky here in Connecticut...

    The I-95 & I-91 corridor is so brightly lit, I wish I could see the night sky better...

    Looking at the earth from orbit is okay...
    But, I'd rather look out at the bigger picture.....

    "Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
    I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House."
    ~John F. Kennedy~


    by Oldestsonofasailor on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:12:25 PM PST

  •  So beautiful. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Like stars or gems in hair undone
    Her city lights become her
    Terra dances with the sun,
    Her curtseys ice and summer.
    I rode the fire out to space
    To see the stars, but saw her face,
    The memory haunts me still;
    Veiled in my re-entry burn,
    Glad did I leave, and glad return
    To Earth, and laid me down with a will.

    -Cat Faber, "Via Astra"

  •  OT: Just watching a COLORIZED old movie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am now watching The Miracle on 34th street an old black and white movie that has been colorized.  I am amazed by how the colorization process has improved - looks like it was shot in color.

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