It’s that time of year when ambitious homeowners take to their lawns and roofs to outdo their neighbors in a game of who can overwhelm the local power grid first. Results may vary from lonely candy canes to full-blown holiday light dragons. But whether you go full-throttle or prefer a low-key display of holiday cheer, one thing is now true: NASA is watching.
Scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Yale University in Connecticut used satellite imagery to track light patterns in 1,200 cities over two and a half years. They found that increased light correlated perfectly with the holiday seasons for Ramadan in the Middle East, as well as Christmas and New Year’s Eve worldwide. They also saw variations in how cities and neighborhoods within those cities celebrate these holidays, the team announced this week at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco.