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Are the images of city lighting portrayed on these shots from the GOES-East CONUS satellite based on real-time imagery?

This time-series was taken as the line of nightfall swept from east to west across the screen.

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Note how the cities around the southern tip of Lake Michigan in particular appear to be initially covered by clouds, then come into view as lighted areas in the darkness, then disappear again -- yet it seems unlikely that the cloud cover has actually ever vanished during this interval.

I've also often noticed that cities in my immediate vicinity show up as lighted areas on the GOES-east CONUS satellite shots slightly before a significant portion of the streetlights etc have actually turned on.

(link to current photos from this satellite)

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting question and welcome! Just posting this here because I think this post/question may belong to this SE network: gis.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$
    – nate
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @nate--thanks-- as question as already been suitably answered, probably no need to consider alternate venues-- $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 23:38

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No, it is not real-time imagery of city lights. As per the GOES Geo-Color Description (which should be at the bottom of the page you are on):

GeoColor is a multispectral product composed of True Color (using a simulated green component) during daytime, and an Infrared product that uses bands 7 and 13 at night. During the day, the imagery looks approximately as it would when viewed with human eyes from space. At night, the blue colors represent liquid water clouds such as fog and stratus, while gray to white indicate higher ice clouds, and the city lights come from a static database derived from the VIIRS Day Night Band.

NOTE: Lighted areas shown in nighttime images are not real-time depictions of city lights. The layer is derived from a compilation of JPSS VIIRS Day Night Band images and is included for orientation purposes.

For more details, see the CIRA GeoColor Product Quick Guide

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  • $\begingroup$ For clarification, JPSS is short for "Joint Polar Satellite System", apparently the new name for the collection of sun synchronous satellites in low Earth orbit operated by NOAA. VIIRS is short for Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, an instrument suite on those satellites. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks; I'm a little embarrassed that the answer was right there in plain sight on the screen on all along -- $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 12:40

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