The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Navigating the Dark Marble

Last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting, NASA unveiled a series of new images of the world at night. You have probably seen lots of these images on the web (I have posted some of them here from time to time) but not quite with this resolution! Here is a sample of the image of the United States.

Now that’s pretty good, but I have always wanted a nice interactive version where you could zoom in on it and pan around a bit. Well I got my wish with the Blue Marble Navigator. You can pan and zoom in on an area of interest anywhere on the world. The details you can get are amazing. You can trace out the U.S. Interstate highways system, fires from oil fields around the world, lights from the Japanese fishing fleet and the Trans-Siberian railroad. You can learn a lot but clicking around looking at lighting patterns. Here is a zoom of the Tucson area.

Tucson at NightYou can really see the boundaries of the town. I can even pick out Speedway (I live just off it) and where it dead ends into Saguaro National Park East, one of my frequent spots for astrophotography.

Some of the older pics you see of the world at night have such low resolution, they make it look like there are lights literally everywhere. With these pics, you get a better and more realistic view of where the cities and lights are. Of course, the real problem is that these city light can be seen quite a ways out (sometimes hundreds of miles).

So go ahead, click around the map, find your hometown and see how it looks.


December 11, 2012 - Posted by | Dark Skies, NASA

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