IMAGES: Brighter Lights, Bigger Cities

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Science  17 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5767, pp. 1529
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5767.1529e

This new map of Earth's nighttime illumination will make light bulb manufacturers glow and astronomers cringe. Released last month, the chart* from the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in Boulder, Colorado, is a composite of satellite images snapped in 2003. Site visitors can download and compare images from as far back as 1992. Although changes in illumination often are hard to detect with the unaided eye, computer analysis shows that the United States and India continue to brighten, says Chris Elvidge of NGDC. However, areas of the former Soviet Union, such as Moldova and Ukraine, have been growing darker. You can peruse processed versions of the maps that highlight brightness differences at this site from a graduate student in Aachen, Germany.

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