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Night Moves: NASA Delivers a Fascinating After-Hours Look at Earth from Space

Take a moment to marvel at this view of Earth as captured by something known as the Suomi NPP satellite, operated jointly by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Says NASA: “The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth's land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.”

All that work to get a seamless picture of a cloudless world. Definitely worth the effort.

This brings to mind the work of an interesting nonprofit group, the International Dark-Sky Association. Their cause, which we described in a 2010 REI Blog post, is to reduce the amount of unnatural light that diminishes an earthling’s view of a deep, dark sky at night. The group is battling what it calls light pollution.

Anyone who has enjoyed after-dark phenomena such as moonbows in Yosemite (see video below) or astronomy viewing parties at various national parks might find the IDA’s work of value.

Kevin Poe, coordinator of Bryce Canyon National Park’s popular Annual Astronomy Festival (his title: Head Dark Ranger), was recently presented with an IDA Dark Sky Defender award and is listed among its Dark Sky Ambassadors.

Some civic-minded groups are in tune with the IDA’s objectives. In Athens, Ohio (home of Ohio University), the Southeast Ohio Astronomical Society has asked city officials to select lighting fixtures that do not contribute to light pollution.

Interesting. I own more than a dozen light sources—headlamps, flashlights and lanterns. But I dig a deep, dark night view. Once while camped on a moonless autumn night in the backcountry of Big Bend National Park in Texas, the night sky appeared wall-to-wall with stars, as if it would have been tough to squeeze in any more. Dark skies are cool.


Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

Posted on at 11:45 AM

Tagged: International Dark Sky Association, NASA, dark skies, earth as art and outer space

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Ann B Staff Member

The wildfires in Australia and the North/South Korea border were amazing.

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