This photo is shared every year by Indian people via all social media platforms with the comment this amazing photography was taken by NASA during this year Diwali Night. This festival of lights causes extra light, but it can not be observed from space. The reality is that this beautiful photo was created by Chris Elvidge scientist from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The image is based on data from the Operational Linescan System flown on DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) satellites.

So, please not share this image with misleading caption. The true is that photo from NOAA as a combination of many pictures collected over years. The main purpose of its creation was to highlight the population growth in India. Each colour represents city lights visible during different time periods:

  • white: was visible before 1992,
  • blue: became visible in 1992,
  • green: became visible in 1998,
  • red:  became visible in 2003.

The photography was composited in 2003, so about 13 years ago. To be honest, I would like to see the updated version with data between 2003 and 2016.

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The real photo captured by NASA during the Diwali Night looks different.

Fortunately, NASA has photographed India during the Diwali festival on 12th November 2012. They did this using the Suomi NPP satellite and VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) system. As you can see, it does not look so amazing like the “fake” photo. However, in my opinion the original photography from NASA is beautiful. I urge you to share the below photo with the correct description. Perhaps among your friends they are those who do not know the true origin of the popular photograph from NOAA and it would be worth to educate them 🙂

India Diwali Night NASA
The real photo of India from space during the Diwali Night (source: NASA)

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