Thursday, June 7, 2018

Perspective of a facade from above

One of the systematic issues that nighttime imagery has to deal with is the fact the orientation of lights and their position relative to buildings and other objects affects whether they can be seen from above. Take for example, these two images of the area near Berlin's Zoologischer Garten station.

This work by Alejandro Sanchez de Miguel, Christopher Kyba, and Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

When our aircraft was north of the area, it was able to see north facing facades that were illuminated. These illuminated facades are invisible, however, when viewed from the South. This means that when satellites take images of the Earth at night, the "answer" for how bright a city is depends to some extent on where the satellite was when it took the image.

Update (August 5, 2019)

My student Jacqueline Coesfeld wrote a paper that uses these images, and considers how this effect (and others) result in variations in how much light is seen by satellites from night to night. The paper is Open Access, so check it out!