The Black Marble: Europe, Africa

Europe and Africa glitter in the night-time view of "Black Marble" Earth, showing how the world's population has spread from the cradle of humanity over the millenia.

The Black Marble: Americas

The Americas gleam in the night in this view of the Western hemisphere of the planet--showing the dramatic difference between North and South.

The Black Marble: The Ocean

This view of the Pacific ocean, dark compared to the city lights that fringe its coast, reminds us how much of our planet is covered in water--a fact we tend to forget.

North, South Korea

Political differences lead to real differences on the ground, and this view of North and South Korea reminds us how different people's lives can be, based on simple geography.

Nature's Terrifying Lights

Not all the night-time light in NASA's imagery is man-made: The sparks here in the middle of Australia are from giant runaway bush fires.

The Nile

Reminding us how much of our lives are shaped by the landscape, the night time lights of Egypt trace the same route the ancient Egyptians followed: Along the Nile river.


Though the Roman empire was incredibly successful and far-spread, no night-time picture of ancient Italy would look like this modern view, which also captures central and Eastern Europe.


Can you see your house from here? The lights of North America are among the most dense and the most wide-spread on the planet. Amazing, but the sky-glow may come at the expense of your view of the stars.

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New Satellite Images From NASA Show Ghostly Earth By Night

Scientists have dubbed it The Black Marble, but new images from NASA show just how much light is emitted from our planet at night. The pictures, taken by the Suomi NPP satellite, show both light coming from natural sources as well as the lights made by man, from the twinkling lights on fishing boats at sea to the vast illuminated arteries and organs of civilization, the images turning our world into an amazing galaxy.

Improved spatial resolution and dynamic-range lighting levels have made these photos possible. The Suomi NPP also has a Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, which can detect all lights—even down to one isolated highway lamp, says NASA. "Our planet comes alive with light," says the commentary on the video, which shows amazing detail—even forest fires raging in Australia show up, and the sheer number of vessels on the Nile River turn it into an urban freeway.

If space is, like, totally your thing, you may want to also see the amazing feats of the Voyager space probes. Na-nu, na-nu, and all that.

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