FACT CHECK: No, This Is Not An Image Of India During Diwali As Seen From Space

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Twitter purportedly shows a view of India from space during Diwali.

Verdict: False

The image shows a compilation of urban lights in India over time from space. NASA refuted the claim that the lights are from Diwali.

Fact Check:

Diwali is a Hindu, Jain and Sikh festival lasting five days and marked by shining lamps and lights, feasting and fireworks, according to the BBC. This year’s festivities were from Nov. 2 until Nov. 6, with the most prominent festivities happening on Nov. 4, the outlet reported. The Indian government recognizes Diwali’s third day as a public holiday.

The image in the Nov. 4 tweet shows what looks like an orbital view of India at night with lights of various colors spread out across the country. “NASA just shared this picture, Diwali in India as seen from Space! Happy Diwali Guys,” the tweet reads. (RELATED: Did NASA Spend More Than $165 Million To Develop Pens That Work In Space?)

While NASA did tweet on Nov. 4 a photo taken of India during 2012’s Diwali holiday, that picture is is black-and-white and not the same as the one being shared along with the claims about Diwali. The tweet included a link to a 2012 article on the subject, stating the black-and-white photo shows a satellite image of Southeast Asia that was artificially brightened to make urban lights more visible. The article noted that “any extra light produced during Diwali is so subtle that it is likely imperceptible when observed from space.”

The colorful image being connected to Diwali by Twitter users was actually produced by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist Chris Elvidge in 2003 using data collected by U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites, according to the article shared by NASA. NASA explained that Elvidge added the different colors to “highlight population growth over time,” with the various colors corresponding to years when lights in certain areas could first be seen from space.

Check Your Fact searched press releases and social media posts shared by the Indian Space Research Organisation, but found no instance of the organization stating the multicolored image shows Diwali lights.

False claims that the colorful image shows India during Diwali have circulated on social media since at least 2012. The claims appear to resurface around the time the holiday is celebrated each year.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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