damn, that's a lot of light pollution
July 14, 2014 4:55 AM   Subscribe

Mine (New Orleans) looks to be upside-down for some reason.
posted by localroger at 5:00 AM on July 14, 2014

No Savannah Georgia? One of the few cities in the country with a to-go cup district for beer and we don't even rate a goddamn photo from space?! You ungrateful bastards.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:23 AM on July 14, 2014

No image from space needed for the light pollution of downtown Bethesda, Maryland. Blade Runner could have been filmed there.

The light pollution up the block from where I live was limited until a few years ago...just the street lights. And then...the high school across the road built its new stadium. With its Big Lights. Now everybody knows when there's a night game.

FYI: There's a book called "Night as Frontier: Colonizing the World After Dark" (pub. 1987), for those who are interested in one aspect in the history and development of light pollution (no, I'm not the author, don't know the author, never dated anybody in the publisher's office, etc.).

I miss the stars.
posted by datawrangler at 5:26 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

localroger: Detroit is also rotated about 90 degrees in it's photo.

I find these really pretty for some reason.
posted by royalsong at 5:38 AM on July 14, 2014

I love Vancouver's use of more or better lights on the grid roads. Just from the odd dent in Cambie and the partial-s-bend in Knight I can figure see where the three different places I lived in are (were in the case of the demolished student shady house). And how dark each of those places still are in comparison to, say, Baltimore.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:48 AM on July 14, 2014

Relatedly, 2006 light pollution map.
posted by edd at 5:50 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Detroit is also rotated about 90 degrees in it's photo.

There isn't actually a "right side up", just a hemispheric convention. Maybe they're oriented wrt the earth's rotation, or to the satellite path.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:58 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow, cool. (erudition for the win this morning!)

In the pic of St. Louis, I can actually pick out where my house is. We have two *enormous* oak trees and the neighbor has a large, wide-spread elm, so three streetlights are blocked.
posted by notsnot at 6:16 AM on July 14, 2014

It looks like the huge, throbbing metropolis it is.
posted by Decani at 6:43 AM on July 14, 2014

San Francisco is surprisingly dark. Even if the city is using all sodium vapor lighting, individual homeowners almost certainly don't. Or maybe it was foggy that night?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:48 AM on July 14, 2014

Sure, Providence gets left out again. It's not BAMA unless Providence gets included, guys! All Sprawl or No Sprawl!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:13 AM on July 14, 2014

The nyc one is a low-res image that broke my brain temporarily as I waited squintily for it to finish loading for maybe 2-3 minutes before I realized that was the best it was going to get.
posted by elizardbits at 7:39 AM on July 14, 2014

Yeah, the NYC one is weird. The atlantic article has the same image, but it's oddly in focus compared to the source. I assume someone photoshopped it a little for the article.
posted by yeoz at 8:02 AM on July 14, 2014

Mine (New Orleans) looks to be upside-down for some reason.

They're not rotated to local north, they're presented as shot. See this this shot of Chicago that appears to have the lake to the SW of the City.

Interesting bits from that shot-- you can clearly see most of the borders of the city proper, because the city uses more lamps per mile on the streets and uses primarily low pressure sodium lamps. It's harder to spot the Indiana border because the lights are less dense. Unlike at flight altitude, it's trivial to find Midway and hard to find O'Hare. Midway is the roughly X shaped black spot on the SW side of the city, just to the left of center of this photograph. O'Hare is the very bright white light, which is terminals 1-3, in the middle of dark space, in the lower right center. The other blobs at ORD -- above is the South Cargo Aera, to the right is the Maintenance Area, and the yellow blob just to the left is terminal 4, the International Terminal -- if you zoom in, you can see the L shape of the terminal building.

The Tri-state Tollway around O'Hare has far too many billboards, esp. south of the airport.

This looks to be a very recent shot, since Western Avenue and LSD are using the new white lights. It's fascinating, but obvious on retrospection, that River North is much brighter than the Loop. It looks like the lights are on at Soldier Field, but not at Wrigley or US Cellular fields, so we're looking at a wintertime shot.
posted by eriko at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Amazing how you can pick out the two Temple campuses as you go north on Broad St. in Philly.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2014

heh there's no pictures for any cities in my entire state.
posted by nadawi at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2014

Detroit is also rotated about 90 degrees in it's photo.

Hmm? No it's not.
posted by rodii at 9:01 AM on July 14, 2014

Even small villages and towns seem beset by light pollution these days. It is almost impossible to escape except in the most remote places. Who even knows what the Milky Way actually looks like anymore. My teenage son was recently fascinated to see it when we went out West into the mountains. When you truly get away from all the man made light and look up the sky is stunning.
posted by caddis at 9:29 AM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do they explain somewhere what the color of the dots mean?
posted by herda05 at 10:02 AM on July 14, 2014

That is not Charleston, SC...
posted by toastchee at 10:06 AM on July 14, 2014

what does your city look like from space?

My city (small town actually) has a lot of problems, but light pollution isn’t particularly one of them. The recent documentary on the subject singles us out as a place addressing the issue, and now we’ve got a pretty successful annual ‘dark sky’ festival.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2014

Hmm? No it's not.

They actually have two different pictures. If you're zoomed way out and the dot is green, Detroit is rotated. If you zoom in until the dot turns purple then it's a lower res but directionally correct picture.
posted by royalsong at 10:19 AM on July 14, 2014

No Savannah Georgia?

How about this? The citiesatnight.org website puts a lot of distance between the cities it serves and how it gets them. The website serves as a visualization of that effort: NASA it seems would have them beat in several areas (my hometown as well) already for comprehensiveness. .
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:24 PM on July 14, 2014

Inverting it, this is what space looks like from my city (to be compared with googled pictures of the Andromeda Galaxy)
posted by edd at 2:50 PM on July 14, 2014

posted by localroger at 3:52 PM on July 14, 2014

Phoenix's grid system shows up quite clearly!
posted by _paegan_ at 6:19 PM on July 14, 2014

Great stuff! I wonder what infrared pics would look like. Cities are notorious heat islands, right?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:51 PM on July 14, 2014

San Francisco is an amazing map of the bay area fog. Though the whole picture is pretty blurry (I'd love to see a nice crisp one like some of the other cities) you have San Francisco blanketed by a giant amoeba of fog and the East Bay looking relatively in focus. And you can see as you get south of Daly City or so it starts to clear up again.

I"m kind of curious what's that big blob of light by what looks like Half Moon Bay? Is there a lighthouse out there?
posted by aspo at 9:55 PM on July 14, 2014

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