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 US National Geophysical Data Center has long created night-lights maps of Earth 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 (see "2010" below). In 2012, NASA 'beautified' a mosaic of the new satellite's images by colouring them yellow and putting them on a blue daytime background (see "2012"). While NASA's picture shows even villages' lights, subtle differences in cities are lost. Hence, the more up-to-date imagery (see "2015") was converted with a different brightness mapping.

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

2010

Taken throughout the year
Also available: 2008, 2009
Sensor: OLS (2.7 km/pixel, since 1976)
Satellite: F-series of the DMSP
Data: Mosaic created by NGDC's EOG

2012

Taken in April and October 2012

Sensor: VIIRS (0.7 km/pixel, since 2011)
Satellite: Suomi NPP of the DMSP
Data: Night and day composited by NASA's EO

2015

Taken in February 2015
Also available: Jan. 2013, May 2014
Sensor: VIIRS (0.7 km/pixel, since 2011)
Satellite: Suomi NPP of the DMSP
Data: Mosaic created by NGDC's EOG

By the way, the NGDC's EOG also allows you to download very recent night-time mosaic pictures (though with clouds and gaps). Of course, while these images are 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...

Please send comments etc. to: urs.enke@web.de