Ever need proof about how we've changed the Earth? Check out what it looks like at night.

If you're ever in doubt that humanity is really, really powerful, you just have to look at the Earth at night.

All images from NASA Earth Observatory. Images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS. Data from Miguel Román, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Thanks to orbiting NASA satellites, we can see just how much of the Earth we've lit up.


These aren't single images, however. They're each stitched together from thousands of observations. Every couple of years, NASA is able to pull enough together to publicly update the night map.

On April 13, 2017, NASA released their newest set of night maps.

Updated computer programs have made the images clearer than ever. NASA's software is now able to detect things like moonlight and auroras and filter them out of the composites.

Check out that big divide right through the United States.

The United States is the third most heavily populated nation on Earth, but you can clearly see how the West is still dominated by wild, open space.

Night maps are also just dang beautiful. I mean — wow, India.

The nation's become a glowing, beating heart jutting out right in the middle of the ocean. It'll get even brighter as more of its residents get access to electricity.

From above, it's easy to understand how much geography matters. Look at Egypt.

The Nile has been the lifeblood of the region for pretty much all of history, and even today, lights stay tightly wound around that mighty river.

The glow of New York has sprawled out, expanded, and merged with Philly and Boston.

It's almost blinding!

When you zoom out though, you can see there's still plenty of darkness out there.

The oceans make up a huge, dark, swath of the Earth, but you can also clearly see how deserts, jungle, and tundra still keep us at bay.

But the absolute greatest images released this year have to be those of the "Black Marble."

These composite images were stitched together to show a full hemisphere of the Earth. The clouds and breaking sun are a bit of visual flair by the artist.

You can't deny they add something ethereal to the whole thing.

If things go right, we could be able to see a lot more of these images in the near future.

Perhaps every month or maybe even every day. A team of researchers led by Earth scientist Miguel Román of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are planning to overhaul the whole system.

Since 2011, Román and his team have been developing new software that could make daily high-definition images available to the scientific community and public.

What's even cooler is these images are useful. For example, they could pinpoint who might need help after a natural disaster.

Imagine FEMA being able to monitor blackouts after a hurricane or earthquake. We could better monitor migrations or deliver aid to people who need it. In fact, a team at the United Nations has already used similar night-light data to monitor the war in Syria.

This technology could help us take better care of the people living on Earth all while appreciating the beauty of this planet we call home too.

In the end, we're still just lights in the dark. So let's take care of each other while we're here.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."