Our holiday lights are so bright we can see them from space. Thanks to the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite, a joint mission between NASA and NOAA, scientists are presenting a new way of studying satellite data that can illustrate patterns in holiday lights, both during Christmas and the Holy Month of Ramadan. These new tools can provide new insights into how energy consumption behaviors vary across different cultural settings.
A note about the data: Because snow reflects so much light, the researchers could only analyze snow-free cities. They focused on the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and cities south of a rough imaginary line from St. Louis to Washington, D.C.