The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

Satellites have given us a huge amounts of information about Earth—including the fact that many of our cities are so blinding lit, they're visible from space. Those radiant cities are the subject of Lux, a photo essay by photographer Christina Seely.

Lux is a taxonomy of light pollution: An encyclopedic look at the 45 cities producing the most extreme light pollution around the globe, based on NASA's observations. It took Seely, who is based in San Francisco, five years to visit the 45 different cities across Europe, Japan, and the U.S., seeking out locations along coastlines and on hills where she could capture the glow from afar.

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

"These economically and politically powerful regions not only have the greatest impact on the night sky but this brightness reflects a dominant cumulative impact on the planet," Seely explains in her artist's statement, continuing:

For most of human history, man-made light has signified hope and progress within local and global arenas. In this project, light also paradoxically denotes an index of the added complex negative human impacts on the health and future of the planet.

It tends to get ignored in the face of more pressing crises, but
darkness is a disappearing luxury in our world. Our skies are so bright these days, many kids haven't actually ever seen Milky Way. In fact, we're forgetting what darkness is even like.

Check out some of Seely's photographs below, or snap up her new Monograph. [Christina Seely; The New Yorker]


Madrid, Spain:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 40°25' N 3°41' W.


Paris, France:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 48° 52' N 2° 19' E.


Kyoto, Japan:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 35°00'N 135°45'E.


Tokyo, Japan:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman


Metropolis 35° 41'N 139° 46'E.


Chicago, Illinois:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 41°54'N 87°39'W.


Los Angeles, California:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 33°56'N 118°24'W.


Las Vegas, Nevada:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 36°10' N 115°8' W.


London, England:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 51° 29' N 0° 0' W.


New York, New York:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman


Metropolis 40°47' N 73°58' W.


Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman


Metropolis 52° 23' N 4° 55' E.


Milan, Italy:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 45° 27' N 9° 10' E.


Nagoya, Japan:

The 45 Brightest Cities in the World, Photographed By One Woman

Metropolis 35° 10'N 136° 50'E.