Monday, January 31, 2011

Earth's City Lights

This Audio Slide Show on BBC, regarding counting stars within the four points of Orion and the impact of city lights on the night sky, is very interesting.  The narrator comments that Great Britain wastes about 1 Billion Pounds Stirling annually lighting up the sky instead of the ground.  That is a lot of money and a lot of wasted electricity with a concurrent waste of hydrocarbon fuels which will vary with how much of their electricity is generated by hydro or nuclear instead of coal or gas.
When one looks at the NASA picture of earth at night from space, you can see where people live and where they do not and how much light is either directed or reflected upwards.  This picture is a copy of a much larger version.  I found one on Flickr at this site here. It is 1.1 MB. I downloaded one a few years ago that was 3.5 MB.  The detail was incredible at high magnification.  I found all the little towns in Saskatchewan in the area where I grew up.  I haven't tried it on the Flickr site nor have I been able to find the 3.5 MB one again.


  1. I noticed that most of Canada is in the dark. How fitting! How unfortunate!!

  2. It's a cool pic when it's big enough to see it more closely. But how did they manage to make it nighttime all over the world???

  3. Twenty years ago the Congo Church down the hill to the SW replaced their steeple. They must have wanted to make sure God noticed so they added large spotlights to illuminate the new steeple at night. My night sky to the SW was ruined.

    The lights stayed on for quite a few years. Long enough that I did not even bother anymore trying to look at the stars in that direction. Then one night I noticed the lights were no longer on. Power bill, vandalism, or concerned parishoners, whatever caused the lights to stay off gave me back my night sky.

    Up to that point I had never even considered light pollution. Now I see it wherever I go.

  4. I've seen such views laid side by side over the years, and the increase in light is amazing.

    I miss you, Fodder. You usually drop by and comment on every post, but I don't think I've seen hair or hide of you for the last four. I hope you're okay.

    By the way, about arthritic, each pound we lose is supposed to take four pounds of load off our knees when we walk. That's why I never stop trying to lose, but little seems to come of up, especially now that I'm on Neurontin.

  5. All I know is that when I look at the sky in the beautiful Arizona desert and see thousands of stars twinkling it brings me great joy!

  6. I found some 6Mb versions on but my computer came to standstill trying to view them and zoom in.

  7. Kulkuri, the same way they mad Earth appear flattened out. It's a composite.

  8. You think it's a bit brighter in Egypt these days?

  9. Miss Sadie, Canada, russia, Mongolia, Xinjiang is in the dark because nobody lives there. Africa on the other hand is in the dark because in most places they don't have electricity. That is sad.

    MRM - light pollution was the phrase I couldn't remember. Thank you.

    Snowbrush, I was back. thanks for reminding me. How much of the light seen from space is simply reflected off the ground? I think a great deal of it.

    afcg, being a prairie boy, I know what you mean about bright starlit nights.

    DC, I can't even open that 6 MB picture but would sure love to have it. Can you download it and email it to me?

    SW thanks for explaining to Kulkuri. I will make no smart remarks about Finlanders nor Yoopers. Glass houses, you know.

    Demeur, I live in hopes that things will be brighter there.


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