This is a picture of India, but not on a Diwali night (Image: NOAA)

Short Bytes: Every year after Diwali, a colorful picture of India as seen from space is circulated on social networks. We are sorry to point out, but yes, that picture isn’t the one from a Diwali night. Read more to know the truth.

Diwali, the festival of lights was celebrated yesterday in India and other parts of the world. Fireworks, lighting lamps, candles, bulbs etc. are an integral part of Diwali festival.

The above picture which is circulated each year as the “Picture of India from Space on Diwali Night” is a false picture. Can you see the light produced during Diwali celebrations from space? NASA has the answer and the answer is no.

The light produced during Diwali is so scattered and weak that the space images don’t show it. According to NASA:

In reality, any extra light produced during Diwali is so subtle that it is likely imperceptible when observed from space.

The fake image being circulated each year repeatedly on social networking sites and other internet websites is from the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites. It was created by NOAA to highlight the population growth over the time. It’s not even a single photo, it’s a combination of many photographs and data collected over the years. In this image white areas show city lights that were visible before 1992, while blue, green, and red shades show city lights that became visible in 1992, 1998, and 2003 respectively.

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“An image that claims to show the region lit for Diwali has been circulating on social media websites and the Internet in recent years. In fact, it does not show what it claims. That image, based on data from the Operational Linescan System flown on US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites, is a colour—composite created in 2003 by NOAA scientist Chris Elvidge to highlight population growth over time.” – NASA.

The real picture

Real picture of India from space on Diwali night (Image: NASA)

The real picture of India from space on Diwali night was taken on November 12, 2012 by the  Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. This picture shows the nighttime view of southern Asia. This image is created with the help of data collected by this VIIRS day-night band.

This image has been brightened to a good extent to make the city lights easier to see and distinguish. The big cities and towns of India are the brightest. Cities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal are also visible in this image.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in comments.