Astronauts can see your holiday lights from space

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NASA Holiday Lights from Space
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Astronauts can see your holiday lights from space

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - United States

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Florida

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Texas and Louisiana

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Atlanta

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Istanbul

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Cairo

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Northern California

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Washington, D.C., and Baltimore

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Saudi Arabia

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Los Angeles

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Southern California and the Southwest

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - Puerto Rico and Hispaniola

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities - United States

City lights shine brighter during the holidays in the United States when compared with the rest of the year, as shown using a new analysis of daily data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. Dark green pixels are areas where lights are 50 percent brighter, or more, during December. Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credit: NASA

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By RYAN GORMAN

New images released by NASA show how satellites are able to see the additional illumination from high above the planet.

The series of pictures, taken in the past few weeks by satellites, show cities much brighter than normal, and illustrate the great lengths some people go to in celebrating the holiday season.

From full-fledged displays down to nativity scenes, all the lights combine to glow brighter than at any other time of the year.

The extra lights cause metropolitan areas around the country to shine as much as 50 percent brighter than usual, according to NASA. The phenomenon usually begins to show on Black Friday.

"It's a near ubiquitous signal. Despite being ethnically and religiously diverse, we found that the U.S. experiences a holiday increase that is present across most urban communities," NASA's Miguel Román wrote in a blog post about the pictures.

Only cities without snowpack were analyzed, because snow reflects too much light for an accurate observation to be made.

"Overall, we see less light increases in the dense urban centers, compared to the suburbs and small towns where you have more yard space and single-family homes," said Eleanor Stokes, a NASA Jenkins Graduate Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Yale University who co-led the study with Román.

The effect was also noticed in Middle Eastern cities as well, but during Ramadan.

The Muslim holy month usually occurs during the summer and involves day-long fasting until dusk. Cities such as Cairo, Egypt and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia come alive at night.

Light use increases as much as 100 percent, especially at the end of the month.

"Whether you're rich or poor, or religious or not, everybody in Egypt is celebrating the Eid, or the end of Ramadan," Román said.
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