Thursday, December 10, 2015

Amazing new photos from the International Space Station

The astronauts on the International Space Station have recently taken some absolutely outstanding photos of cities at night. Let's start with my former home of Berlin:

Berlin, Germany

That's quite possibly the best photo of Berlin I've ever seen taken from the ISS!

The orbit of the ISS limits it to a band of latitude from about 52° S to 52°N. During a recent pass, the ISS reached its northern limit as it flew over North America. That allowed the astronauts to snap:

Tacoma, Washington, USA

Seattle, Washington, USA

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

I don't know which town this is, it's somewhere near the Atlantic coast.
If you know, let us know in the comments!

You can click on the names above to get access to the full resolution images.

These are some of the best nighttime photos I've ever seen taken from the ISS. Here's a zoom in of the Calgary photo to show just how amazing it is in full resolution. You can see the pattern on the ground from the individual lights, and the outline of buildings with illuminated surrounding areas:

Zoom in of the Calgary image

I accessed these images from the NASA website, who ask that if you use the image you provide this caption: "Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center". However, I'm not sure which astronaut took the photos, so thanks may also be due to one of the other space agencies, and getting such imagery is only possible thanks to the European Space Agency's Nightpod instrument.

If you like looking at images of cities at night, you can help out our research by classifying images and identifying cities! We will use your classified images to understand the sources of light pollution, and to track changes in lighting technology to understand whether cities as a whole are really saving energy or not with the transition to LEDs.

I'd also like to thank Alejandro Sanchez de Miguel (leader of the cities at night project) for forwarding me the links to the Berlin and Calgary images.

UPDATE Dec 11, 2015: Alejandro passed on another amazing image of Frankfurt:

Frankfurt, Germany

Check out the amazing detail of Frankfurt Airport:

Zoom in of Frankfurt Airport

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ideas for future app releases

Update: Changes have been made to the app since this post. For a more recent update list see here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Putting citizen science data back in the hands of citizens!

I'm very pleased to announce that our new web application for viewing skyglow data taken by citizen scientists is now online, at!

It allows you to view where data has been taken:

Skyglow observations in Europe and northern Africa

It lets you view individual Loss of the Night app observations:

A single Loss of the Night app observing session by a citizen scientist

It allows you to do trend analyses to see how skyglow is changing:

Trend analysis for Globe at Night data in Tucson, Arizona
 And it also allows you to access all of your own data, using the "My Measurements" tab.

It will take a few years of observations before the trend analyses start to be really useful, so go out and observe your night sky often! Bur right now, head over to, and have some fun exploring the data collected by tens of thousands of citizen scientists from around the world!