Tutorial: Showing the Blue Marble – Earth at Night 2012 – in Google Earth

The somewhat “inofficial” blue marble Earth at Night 2012 navigator has been around a while now, and it is very popular not only amongst Astronomers, Landscape Astrophotographers, Nature and Documentary Filmmakers, Outdoor Enthusiasts and Environmental Researches.

Blue Marble Navigator

Blue Marble Navigator

The Earth at Night 2012 Navigator is based on Data by Nasa’s Earth Observatory. It is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands.

In total it is a great 2D tool to check the state of Light Pollution for your area or where to go where it is NOT (see some examples below).

Since a while however, I was wondering how to enable this view in Google Earth for a 3D feeling, and it is not very difficult to do that. Just follow the easy steps below…

How to enable Earth at Night 2012 in Google Earth

1. Open Google Earth and its Standard View

Google Earth Standard View

Google Earth Standard View

2. Open Google Earth Gallery (left) and in the Gallery search for “Earth at Night 2012”

Search in Google Earth Gallery

Search in Google Earth Gallery

3. In the Popup Window that describes the “Earth at Night 2012” Image, klick on the image or “view” button

Earth at Night 2012 Info Pop-Up

Earth at Night 2012 Info Pop-Up

4. Voila – you now have a new Layer where you can toggle the Blue Marble Earth at Night 2012 Layer on or off.

Google Earth at Night 2012

Google Earth at Night 2012

Enjoy the new view.

Some examples to discover in Google Earth at Night 2012

Wandering around our planet at night in GE, there are a lot of things to discover.

Here are some starters:

The Po-Valley is one of the brightest spots in Europe’s south for example visible from the Alps on the Horizon, only to be topped by Belgium and Part of the Netherlands.

Belgium and the Po-Valley, Italy

Belgium and the Po-Valley, Italy

Imagine this: Especially Belgium seems to be a Country, where both Politicians and Environmentalists totally fail to get their Light Pollution problem right. Definitely not a place where I would like to live – the night has actually gone over Belgium. What a loss for Nature and the people living there. And imagine what tax costs they could save! They obviously treat electricity as it is for free.

Belgium at Night

Belgium at Night

Next interesting night image comes from Egypt.

Nile, Egypt, Israel, Gaza Strip

Nile, Egypt, Israel, Gaza Strip

As one can see on many of the ISS timelapses, the Nile and the Nile Delta can be easily seen from space. Also Israel and Lebanon seem to be bright places. Wonder why.

Thank God (or the Gods), Mt Everest and Himalayas are still dark places at night. Which has been proofed here ultimately… Everest – A timelapse short film on Vimeo.

Mt Everest

Mt Everest

There are also some interesting phenomena to be seen in the Navigator. I have no idea what these lights in the sea are – fisher boats? At a border? There are more lights on the oceans in that area.

South Korea

South Korea

This is an explanation from NASA for different light sources in the Suomi images: “Away from the cities, much of the nightlight observed by Suomi NPP is wildfire. In other places, fishing boats, gas flares, lightning, oil drilling, or mining operations can show up as points of light. The number of rural lights is also a function of composite imaging. Fires and other lighting could have been detected on any one day and integrated into the composite picture even though they were temporary. That seems to be the case in central and western Australia, where many lights appear in this map. Different areas burned with wildfire at different times that the satellite passed over, giving the impression (in the composite view) that the entire area was lit up at once.”

Next is an interesting sample of light craziness (South Korea) and the absence of Light Pollution (North Korea). One can think about Kim Jong-un’s North Korea in many different ways, but it must have definitely some great Night Skies (if only people could enjoy them there).

South- vs. North Korea at Night

South- vs. North Korea at Night

Finally lets jump to my beloved Island of La Palma: as you can see, some Ignorants on Gran Canaria and Tenerife don’t care much about Light Pollution. Politicians do fail here. La Palma is still a harbor against Light Pollution, and this is why the next AstroMaster Photography / Timelapse Workshop will be held there.

But the night skies of La Palma are in danger because of the incompetence or unwillingness of local politicians of the Island Governments of Tenerife and Gran Canaria to fight Light Pollution.

And obviously the IAC also fails to implement the Sky Law, the islands of Tenerife and La Palma have since 1988, to protect the IAC Observatories friom Light Pollution.

La Palma, Canary Islands

La Palma, El Hierro, Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

And how’s light pollution for your area? Get active, join the International Dark Sky Association.

All the best,
Christoph Malin

 

2 thoughts on “Tutorial: Showing the Blue Marble – Earth at Night 2012 – in Google Earth

  1. Wanted to add that Belgium does have a failing policy on that. But there are also living over 10.000.000 people in that area. That’s 363,6 people per km².

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