The Great Indian Diwali Hoax

 
Photograph/Chris Elvidge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA Image Source/ngdc.noaa.gov/eog

Photograph/Chris Elvidge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA
Image Source/ngdc.noaa.gov/eog

This article was originally published in December 2013.

You might have often come across this photograph, especially during Diwali. Most people refer to it as a satellite view of the manner in which India is lit during the festival. However, this image is actually a colour composite created in 2003 by NOAA scientist Chris Elvidge to highlight population growth over time. It is based on data from the Operation Linescan System, flown on satellites belonging to the US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. NASA said that in the composite image, white images show city lights that were visible prior to 1992, while blue, green and red shades indicate city lights that became visible in 1992, 1998 and 2003. In fact, this year, NASA even released black and white satellite imagery to show people how India actually looks on Diwali, and to warn them about the hoax.

Tags: Composite image, Diwali, history, Hoax, NASA, Story Behind the Picture