Lights At Night

Visitors explore a satellite image of the earth."Lights at Night," is an engaging interactive display developed by the Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences. It has impressed more than 65,000 visitors since the museum opened in 2004. Now "Lights at Night" is available to share with visitors and students through a special licensing agreement with the Koshland Science Museum.

A perfect attraction for museums, libraries, schools and other venues, "Lights at Night" allows visitors to compare energy use through the exploration of real satellite imagery. Operating a joystick, keyboard or simple button controller, users freely navigate over a 3D satellite view of the Earth at night to compare data from 1993, 1997 and 2003 and view changes in energy use over time. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) powers this impressive interactive exhibit, highlighting phenomenon in specific regions and inspiring conversation.

What can visitors learn? "Lights at Night" visuals show:
  • Urban sprawl and urban blight in major cities worldwide,
  • Stark contrast in energy use over time reflecting the ebb and flow of economic development,
  • Differences in energy use as an indicator of geopolitical climate and globalization.

With simple software installation and minimal hardware requirements, "Lights at Night" offers an entertaining interactive approach to teaching about change in energy use over time. Digital Artefacts, a company with 3D computer graphics and simulation expertise and collaborator with the Koshland, can modify the "Lights at Night" set-up to best inspire exploration and interactivity for your visitors. For more information about obtaining a software license for "Lights at Night," contact the Koshland Science Museum.


"I enjoyed zooming in on the places I’ve lived and where we have visited. The kids actually went back a second time."

"I liked the hands on aspect and being able to navigate the globe by tilting, zooming and rotating the Earth on the screen."

*From summative evaluation 2005.