NASA has recently released a new version of ‘Black Marble’, also known as ‘Earth City Lights’ or ‘Earth at Night’. The new version is based on 2016 data. The last time they published it was in 2012. The 2012 version can be found in Google Earth’s built in layers under
Gallery->NASA->Earth City Lights.
NASA’s ‘Black Marble, 2016’ as seen in Google Earth.
Read more about it on the NASA website, which includes some interesting ‘before and after’s showing the changes that have happened since 2012. They also say that they are working on being able to release daily images of Earth at night some time later this year. This would allow us to see transient events such as power outages.
Also of interest, John Nelson of ArcGIS created this website which takes the 2012 and 2016 maps and shows the differences on a world map that you can explore. Also see his blog post here for a description of how he created it.
Unfortunately, getting the full resolution images into Google Earth would not be easy to achieve. The highest resolution version can be found here and is over 2GB for each image. We were able to make this low resolution version (8MB). For best results, turn off the ‘atmosphere’ (
View->atmosphere) and ‘borders and labels’. It also works in the new Google Earth but they haven’t yet added an option to turn off the atmosphere so it doesn’t look as good when zoomed out. To turn off the clouds layer in the new Google Earth, go to