Dazzling NASA images from space show how holiday lights brighten the night across the globe
- A new e-book from NASA compiles 25 years of satellite images taken a night.
- Some of those images show that US cities emit more light around Christmas and New Year's.
- NASA researchers also found that Middle Eastern cities are illuminated during Ramadan.
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Leave it to NASA to find a way to measure holiday spirit from space.
In a new 200-page e-book, "Earth at Night," the agency has compiled 25 years of satellite images taken when the planet was enveloped in darkness.
At night, small pockets of light from human activity are visible on Earth's surface. During the holidays, those lights get noticeably bigger and brighter.
After analyzing the world's nighttime light patterns between 2012 and 2014, NASA researchers found, unsurprisingly, that the US emits more intense light around the time of Christmas and New Year's. They also found more bursts of light during Ramadan in the Middle East.
Take a look at the cities with the brightest lights.
In this image of the US, green represents areas where there was more light in December compared to the rest of the year. Red represents areas where there was less light.
After examining 70 US cities, NASA found that lighting in central urban areas was 20% to 30% brighter in December.
Christmas lights were even more intense in the suburbs and outskirts of major cities. Those areas grew 30% to 50% brighter in December.
In these images, each pixel represents half a mile's worth of light.
Holiday festivities also brightened up Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, but Phoenix and the Mexican border city of Tijuana saw the biggest holiday light changes.
Even within the same state, some cities were more illuminated than others.
The light patterns indicate a "national, shared tradition" across most cities in the US, according to the researchers.
Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic weren't as bright as the mainland US in December, but their capital cities were lit up during the holidays.
The researchers also examined light patterns in the Middle East during the months of Ramadan.
In Saudi Arabian cities, light grew 60% to 100% brighter during Ramadan.
But Turkish cities weren't as bright. Regions in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon were also relatively dark.
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