Image:Earthlights dmsp.jpg

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Wikipedia logo This image was selected as picture of the day for June 13, 2004, and April 21, 2005.

Composite image of the Earth at night, created by NASA and NOAA.

NASA Description: This image of Earth’s city lights was created with data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS). Originally designed to view clouds by moonlight, the OLS is also used to map the locations of permanent lights on the Earth’s surface.

The brightest areas of the Earth are the most urbanized, but not necessarily the most populated. (Compare western Europe with China and India.) Cities tend to grow along coastlines and transportation networks. Even without the underlying map, the outlines of many continents would still be visible. The United States interstate highway system appears as a lattice connecting the brighter dots of city centers. In Russia, the Trans-Siberian railroad is a thin line stretching from Moscow through the centre of Asia to Vladivostok. The Nile River, from the Aswan Dam to the Mediterranean Sea, is another bright thread through an otherwise dark region.

Even more than 100 years after the invention of the electric light, some regions remain thinly populated and unlit. Antarctica is entirely dark. The interior jungles of Africa and South America are mostly dark, but lights are beginning to appear there. Deserts in Africa, Arabia, Australia, Mongolia, and the United States are poorly lit as well (except along the coast), along with the boreal forests of Canada and Russia, and the great mountains of the Himalaya. Also noticeable is the dramatic contrast in light emission between South Korea and North Korea.

Visualization Date: 2000-10-23

Featured picture This is a featured picture on Wikimedia Commons. We believe it is one of the finest images on Commons. If you have an image of similar quality that can be published under a suitable copyright license, be sure to upload it, tag it, and nominate it.
Picture of the day This image was selected as a picture of the day for March 11, 2006. It was captioned as followed:
English: Composite image of the Earth at night
Deutsch: Die Erde bei Nacht (zusammengesetztes Bild)
Français : Image composée de la terre la nuit.
Español: Imagen compuesta de la Tierra de noche

Alemannisch: Zommegsetzts Bild vun de Erd bie Nacht
Български: Съставно изображение на Земята нощем
Česky: Složený satelitní snímek Země v noci
Deutsch: Die Erde bei Nacht (zusammengesetztes Bild)
English: Composite image of the Earth at night
Español: Imagen compuesta de la Tierra de noche
Suomi: Mosaiikkikuva öisestä maapallosta.
Français : Image composée de la terre la nuit.
Galego: A Terra de noite
Magyar : Kompozíció a Föld éjszakai felvételeiből
日本語: 夜の 地球の合成写真
Lëtzebuergesch : D'Äerd bei Nuecht.
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Sammensatt bilde av jorden om natten.
‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Samansett bilete av jorda om natta.
Polski: Mozaika zdjęć satelitarnych Ziemi wykonanych w nocy.
Português: Imagem composta de Terra à noite
Русский: Земля ночью (составное изображение)
Српски / Srpski: Састављена слика Земље ноћу
简体中文: 地球夜景合成照片


The original TIFF image can be found at
16384w x 8192h, 40.6 MB, colour (true)

Image description from


Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.

Public domain This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted". ( NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy).


  • Use of NASA logos (which include the current "meatball" logo, the old "worm" logo, and the seal) is restricted.
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Public domain This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed):
  • Earth
  • Electric light
  • Fermi paradox
  • User:Neutrality
  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program
  • Template:Pic of the day/Archive1
  • Leslie White
  • Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates/Earthlights
  • Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates/January-2005
  • White's law
  • Sociocultural evolution
  • Wikipedia:Picture of the day/June 2004
  • User:Axezz
  • Wikipedia:Picture of the day/April 2005
  • Wikipedia:Picture of the day/April 21, 2005
  • Wikipedia:POTD/April 21, 2005
  • Wikipedia:Featured pictures thumbs 01
  • User:Texascash
  • User:Big Adamsky
  • Talk:Earth/rewrite
  • User:Axezz/Miscellaneous
  • User:Cyde/Featured pictures
  • User:Clarkefreak/earth
  • User:Nightstallion/sandbox
  • User:Thief Lord
  • User:Toby Ord
  • User:Hopiakuta
  • User:Thief Lord/Images
  • Wikipedia:Featured pictures/Views of Earth from space and satellites
  • Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2006 November 27
  • User:Remember the dot/Cool pictures


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