This stunning NASA photo has recently resurfaced and is making the rounds online. While speculation about the picture varies, we contacted the NASA media research office and they dug up the original for us with an explanation.
The photo is an overlay of shots highlighting India’s burgeoning population over several years. The white lights were the only illumination visible before 1992. The blue lights appeared in 1992. The green lights in 1998. And the red lights appeared in 2003.
Current speculation suggests the lights are a result of the Hindu celebration Diwali, or the celebration of lights, held from mid-October to mid-November, but NASA was unable to confirm what time of year the shots were taken.
The wonderfully helpful Gwen at NASA says there are no more recent versions available.
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