Earth at Night Imagery

  • Released Friday, February 14th, 2020


Dazzling photographs and images from space of our planet’s nightlights have captivated public attention for decades. In such images, patterns are immediately seen based on the presence or absence of light: a distinct coastline, bodies of water recognizable by their dark silhouettes, and the faint tendrils of roads and highways emanating from the brilliant blobs of light that are our modern, well-lit cities.

For nearly 25 years, satellite images of Earth at night have served as a fundamental research tool, while also stoking public curiosity. These images paint an expansive and revealing picture, showing how natural phenomena light up the darkness and how humans have illuminated and shaped the planet in profound ways since the invention of the light bulb 140 years ago.

Earth at Night

imagery showing natural and human-caused nocturnal illumination

Black Marble

visualizations of the Black Marble dataset