Thursday, March 08, 2007

London at night

Here's an amazing photo. NASA claim that it's a digital camera photo of London at night, taken from the International Space Station in February 2003. North is to the top, and slightly to the left, so rotate the image clockwise slightly to get the familiar orientation. The lights to the South are Gatwick airport, Heathrow can be spotted just inside the M25 to the West, and Hyde Park and Regent's Park are the two dark 'nebulae' to the West of the city 'core'. The M4 junction with the M25 is just above Heathrow, and if you trace the M4 Westwards, it passes below Slough, then dips South-Westerly to Reading. The M3 is even less discernible than the M4, but Basingstoke is the diamond of light to the South of Reading, and you can pick up the M3 from there.

9 comments:

Gordon McCabe said...

If you look carefully at the image, there's a speckling of discrete, green-tinged lights across the centre of the shot. I couldn't imagine what these could be at first, but I now reckon the digital camera used had a small green light on the front, and the light from this reflected off the window in the International Space Station (ISS), and into the camera lens.

There's also a number of smudgy patches in the image. I'm not sure if these are grease on the window of the ISS, patches of fog/mist on the ground, or government alterations to the image.

Neil Forsyth said...

It looks rather unearthly. More like an astronomical system. Cities at night, seen from above, are quite a spectacle. When young, I often ventured up the Dublin mountains at night. I remember sitting there in the silence, gazing contemplatively upon my city far below, laid out before me like a blanket of lights. The Phoenix Park, a very large inner-city park, looked like an enormous, gaping hole. A blanket with a big hole in it - a good methphor for Dublin in those bleak years.

Gordon McCabe said...

Nice description Neil.

Didn't they used to have motor racing round Phoenix Park, with strawbales protecting the lamp-posts?

Neil Forsyth said...

Not sure about the straw bales, but sure enough that motor racing took place there in the past. In fact, it may still hold the odd event. As I may have mentioned before, motor racing is not one of my interests. That said, I have never actually been to a motor racing event. I'm sure seeing it close-up would be quite exhilerating. As for Phoenix Park, it is a wonderful resource for the people of Dublin. I take my kids there once in a while for the playground and the wildlife (and if truth be known, the young, female joggers). It hosted the Pope in 1979 and a million of us turned up to see him. I, on the other hand, was playing tennis that day. Even then, as a kid, I thought it was all a load of bunkum.

Gordon McCabe said...

Absolutely. I was a Dawkinite before Dawkin was a Dawkinite! I remember standing up in class when I was about 7 or 8 years old, during a discussion of religion, and telling everyone that I didn't believe any of the miracles took place. I remember gasps of horror and astonished stares from round me. The teacher however, a nice old lady called Mrs Smith, just said "Good, that's perfectly fine," or something such, and moved swiftly on!

Now, I've been to Dublin, Neil, but it was 1999, so I've forgotten quite a bit. I remember going down this famous road, close to the centre of the shopping bit, and there was a busy junction, which you crossed, and then there was a green sort of park with a stream. Was that Phoenix Park?

Gordon McCabe said...

It was O'Connell Street!

Gordon McCabe said...

A quick internet search reveals that Phoenix Park hosted the Irish Grand Prix between 1929 and 1931, the only occasions on which Ireland have ever hosted a Grand Prix.

Neil Forsyth said...

Believe it or not, Dublin has changed quite considerably since 1999. O'Connell Street has been completely renovated and looks a lot better. The Dublin Spire, right in the centre, looks splendid, if you ask me, although many Dubliners don't like it. We have also reintroduced a modest tram system. Put it this way, the Dublin skyline has been cluttered with cranes for some years now and development continues apace (not all of it good, but at least we are not knocking down any more Georgian Dublin as we did in the mindless seventies). As for the patch of green you saw somewhere in the environs of O'Connell Street, no, that wasn't Phoenix Park. The Phoenix Park is about two miles back up the river. If you ever visit Dublin again, be sure to let me know.

Gordon McCabe said...

Yeah, looking at the map now I think it was St Stephen's Green.