Not the view at midnight. CREDIT: AtheistEarth/Paul Blanchard/NASA. Reproduced here under the fair dealing terms (criticism) of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Today I saw this image getting shared around on Twitter. The main source seems to be Paul Blanchard but it had also been tweeted by AtheistEarth over an hour before him. Paul claims it is via @apod - it isn't - and that is why I'd first picked up on it. The tweet says:
Wow. Satellite photo taken at the stroke of midnight GMT on New Years Eve! (Via
The implication is that this colourful image is due to new year celebrations. Can you spot the mistakes?
Hopefully the most obvious give-away that this image isn't what is claimed is that all of Europe is illuminated. Aside from the fact that the entire continent wasn't devoid of cloud cover at that moment on New Year's Eve, you might realise that only the UK, Ireland, Portugal, and Morocco exist in the GMT timezone (other countries not visible in this image do too). At midnight GMT, most of the countries in this image would have been at 1am, 2am, 3am and even 4am. Odd times to be letting off fireworks. Also, I'm not sure if the people on oil rigs in the North Sea are allowed to take fireworks with them.
Despite the image not being at midnight, it does have a real source. The original is the new Earth At Night image from NASA which is a composite of many images taken at different times (hence the lack of cloud cover). Here is part of the original NASA image for comparison.