Google Earth image overlays for artificial night sky brightness

The artificial night sky brightness maps from are good tools to find out how dark you home location is and how dark your remote viewing sites are. They can also be used to find new dark sky locations either within driving distance from your home or farther if you are traveling by air (or ship) to farther locations or travelling abroad.

Although the maps are helpful, if they can be used in combination with a mapping tool that also shows roads, elevation, etc. they can be used even moe effectively. I have found some from others or converted many others myself to "image overlays" (.kmz files) that can be easily opened in Google Earth, allowing the user to see the relative brightness and also be able to adjust the tranparency if desired.

The links below point to image overlays for Google Earth. They are .kmz files which can either be opened directly in Google Earth, or downloaded, saved, and imported into Google Earth. If you don't have Google Earth on your computer, you can download and install it for Windows, Mac, or Linux here. Note: When you download Google Earth to install, you should uncheck the Google Chrome check boxes if you don't want to install Google Chrome when Google Earth is installed.

Links to the image overlay files by area

The following files are for large geographic regions. They are not huge (all are less than 1.2MB), but these larger area files may take some time to open in Google Earth (from several seconds up to a minute or more). When they are opened, Google Earth may appear to "freeze" - just be patient - they should eventually finish loading.

North America
Oceana (Including southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand)
Northern South America
Southern South America
Western Asia (Including Russia and Turkey)
Central Asia
Eastern Asia
Northern Africa
Southern Africa

The following files are for smaller geographic regions. They should download and load into Google Earth more quickly.

Western United States
Central and north Chile

Notes: Once you have downloaded/opened the image overlays in Google Earth they usually show up in the "Temporary Places" area. You can right click on them and choose "Save to My Places" so you do not have to open them each time you start Google Earth. You can also have more than one active at the same time if you desire. Before closing Google earth you may want to "un-check" the check boxes next to them so they don't try to load the next time Google Earth is started.

The above image overlays were produced using the night sky brightness images from Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute in Italy.

Credit: P. Cinzano, F. Falchi (University of Padova), C. D. Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder). Copyright Royal Astronomical Society. Reproduced from the Monthly Notices of the RAS by permission of Blackwell Science.

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