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What Do Christmas and Ramadan Look Like From Space?

NASA’s new algorithm measures changes in light usage of major cities around the world.

City lights in the U.S. increased in brightness by up to 50 percent during the holiday season. Image by NASA's Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen.

For the first time, researchers are able to observe changes in light intensity and light output over time from images taken from space. Using an instrument called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center analyzed how patterns in nighttime light intensity fluctuated during the holidays in major cities. With an advanced algorithm, the VIIRS is capable of sifting through clouds, pollution and moonlight and isolating artifical city lights.

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When Is Public Art Not Public? When It Stars in a Movie

A Los Angeles museum charged the recent Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher film a fee to shoot under a famous public artwork by Chris Burden.

The cinematic quality of Los Angeles's iconic public artwork Urban Light is undisputed. Chris Burden's forest of streetlamps, positioned in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is so often photographed that LACMA turned user-submitted photos into a book and exhibition. Access to the lights is never restricted, and at all hours of the day you'll see people using the warm, soft light as a backdrop for wedding photos, music videos, headshots (this is L.A.), and student films. In fact, when I was there the other day, I saw this scene playing out just as the lights flicked on for the evening. How cool that the museum lets this kind of filming go on, I thought. It's like a little public theater on Wilshire Boulevard.

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