NASA Sees Christmas Lights From Space

Who knew Christmas lights could be seen from space? It turns out that those little holiday decorations are not only adding a little twinkle to your home and yard, but outer space as well.

Research, which was co-led by Miguel Román, a research physical scientist at NASA Goddard and member of the Suomi NPP Land Discipline Team, has shown that in the United States, the holiday lights start getting brighter on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, and continue through New Year's Day.

Román and his colleagues examined the light output in 2012 and 2013 in 70 U.S. cities. This was done as a first step in determining patterns in urban energy use, which is a key factor in greenhouse gas emissions.

Findings showed that in most suburbs and outskirts of major cities, light intensity increased by 30 to 50 percent. Additionally, lights in the central urban areas did not increase as much as in the suburbs, but still brightened by 20 to 30 percent.

The researchers also found that cities in the middle east are brightened during the holy month of Ramadan. According to NASA, light use in Saudi Arabian cities increased by 60 percent to 100 percent during Ramadan.

[Image via NASA's Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen]