Night Earth

Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana, Kazakhstan seen from the ISS

Astana is the capital and second-largest city of Kazakhstan, located in the northern-central part of the country, with a population of over 1 million people. It is a relatively new city, having been renamed and rebuilt in 1997 from the previous Soviet-era city of Akmolinsk. Astana is known for its modern architecture, featuring futuristic and avant-garde designs.

At night, the cityscape of Astana transforms into a breathtaking display of lights, with its buildings and landmarks illuminated in vibrant colors. One of the most recognizable landmarks is the Bayterek Tower, a 97-meter-tall observation tower that symbolizes a Kazakh legend about a mythical bird. Its golden orb at the top is illuminated at night and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Another prominent landmark is the Astana Opera House, which features a striking design resembling a traditional Kazakh yurt. Its white dome is lit up at night and is visible from afar.

The city's other notable structures include the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, designed by British architect Norman Foster, the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, which resembles a giant transparent tent, and the Nur-Astana Mosque, which is one of the largest in Central Asia. These buildings, among others, all contribute to the city's impressive night lights.

However, with this beauty also comes the problem of light pollution. According to recent studies, Astana ranks high in light pollution, with its night sky being one of the brightest in the world. This is due to a combination of factors, including the city's high population density, the widespread use of outdoor lighting, and the lack of regulations on light pollution. Moreover, Astana is located in an area with a continental climate, with long and cold winters and short, hot summers, which increases the need for artificial lighting during the darker months.

In addition to the city's architecture and lighting, Astana's inhabitants also play a role in its light pollution. The Kazakh people have a tradition of leaving their lights on throughout the night, as they believe it brings good luck and wards off evil spirits. This practice contributes to the overall brightness of the city at night.

Another factor that affects Astana's light pollution is its industry. The city has a large industrial zone located to the south of the city center, which includes a variety of manufacturing plants and factories. These facilities use high-powered lighting for safety and operational purposes, adding to the overall brightness of the city at night.

Astana is a modern city with a unique blend of traditional Kazakh culture and contemporary architecture. Its night lights are a testament to its beauty and grandeur, but they also come with the cost of light pollution. With the city's rapid development and growing population, it is essential to implement regulations and practices that can mitigate the effects of light pollution, both for the environment and the wellbeing of its inhabitants.