Spectacular Satellite Pictures Of Cities At Night

Montreal at night

Photo: NASA Photo by Don Pettit

Between 2002 and 2003, astronaut Don Pettit developed a system for taking clear images of cities at night from about 400 kilometers above Earth’s surface while aboard International Space Station Expedition 6.Previously, urban nightscapes captured using onboard cameras came out blurry due to the speed of the Space Station relative to Earth’s surface.

Pettit’s mounting device, known as a “barn-door tracker,” effectively negated the effects of orbital motion, enabling astronauts to keep the camera focused on a city while the station moved above rotating Earth.  

The following collection of images show what some of the world’s biggest cities look like from space when illuminated by an intricate web of glowing lights after the sun sets. 

Antwerp, Belgium

El Paso, Texas

Hong Kong

Las Vegas, Nevada

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Montreal, Canada


Mexico City

South Korea and Japan

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Southern California



East Coast of the United States

A world map of Earth's city lights

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