You can see the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico from this Satellite view at night

Satellite View Of USA City Lights At Night

A fascinating high resolution satellite view of city lights / urban regions of the USA at night. I first saw this during 2012 when NASA-NOAA released incredible satellite images of earth at night. I believe they named the project “The Black Marble”. I’ve also read the project simply described as Earth At Night.

The Blue Marble – Earth At Night (USA View)

It’s a global view of Earth’s city lights. A composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite. 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. The data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

The satellite view of the USA at night reveals urbanized areas. For the most part, that’s also related to population and population density.

It’s interesting to see that cities tend to grow along coastlines and transportation networks. The United States interstate highway system appears as a lattice connecting the brighter dots of city centers.

With regard to prepping and preparedness, population density is one input of many. And this satellite view provides a nice visual where you may happen to live with comparison to the region around you (at least as it appears at night). So I thought I would share it with you.

“Nighttime light is the most interesting data that I’ve had a chance to work with,” says Chris Elvidge, who leads the Earth Observation Group at NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center. “I’m always amazed at what city light images show us about human activity.”

High Resolution Satellite Images

I have sourced what I believe is the highest resolution image of the United States at night (from this project). It’s too big to fit on this post, but I will link to it so you can download it if you want.

Here it is at a lower resolution size (1280 x 800) that I made from it, so it fits better on the page:

USA city lights at night satellite view

Or have a look at a higher resolution image that I resized from the original:

USA Satellite View City Lights At Night 1920 x 1280 pixels

Or take a look at the high resolution image of the USA at night, at least the one released to the public:

6646 x 4430 pixels

Interactive Map of Satellite View City Lights At Night

Okay, this is the coolest thing of all… I found a website which uses the 2012 NASA project’s highest resolution imagery (and that of others) whereby they’ve processed it, and created an interactive zoomable map (e.g. using your mouse wheel).

Unlike just the raw images, this map overlays what looks like every single city and town as you zoom further in. If you know where to look, you can find your own town. As you zoom in, you’ve got to give it some time to download and ‘catch up’ (depending on your internet speed).

Here’s the link:


  1. Awesome. I don’t see my town at all where I am. Unfortunately my Social Security number has it’s own way of signaling.

  2. SS,
    It’s going to be fun trying to refigure out my lat/long after that. 😀

  3. My place is dark. I noticed NRP’s place, Lightning Point, has a small dot of light. Must have done the overflight on a night he was a cookin’ and they caught sight of the flare stack off his still. No worries though…. for the most part we are dark. That means no one is there right? That’s our story and we’re sticking with it.

      1. Yup, just what I was going for… be in a ” forgotten” part of the country.

      2. Why do you have a flare stack on your still? I use the thermal mass heater and the flue comes out with no smoke and very little heat. ;-)

        1. Prepared,
          He’s gotta use a flare stack when he makes that Carolina Reaper Hooch. Something about it will auto-ignite if not vented well. I’m just glad i am 100 miles over the San Juan Mtns upwind when he cooks that stuff.

  4. Those bright night lights would make excellent targeting points for incoming Russian/Chinese ICBMs. They couldn’t miss. But if my simple mind could think of this I am sure the Russians and Chinese already know this.
    Now how close do we want to live near the city bright lights?

  5. What is crazy is all the lights in the Gulf of Mexico from the oil platforms!!!

    1. Notice the oil platforms are all west of the AL and FL state line.

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