Lights of Mankind is the story of how we’ve populated our planet as told through inspiring, panoramic photographs of Earth at night, images made possible by the latest light-sensitive cameras and the newly installed Cupola observation module on the International Space Station. These photos, taken by astronauts from the largest window ever used in space, have already awed hundreds of thousands of people.
The images, of course, beg explanation. Why did human beings settle here and not there? How is this glittering planet powered? The photographs tell a story of agriculture, geography, wars, disease, food supply, water supply, politics, and power supply. The uncertain sprawl of Southern California. The Nile River as it snakes toward the Mediterranean. The gridlike pattern of lights that writes the history of the American Midwest. This is the “unintended artwork of human habitation,” as author Keeney writes, artwork we now see first-hand, the first ever photographic portrait of Earth at night.
A trip into space is one of the rarest of human experiences, and this book includes first-person perspectives by the astronauts themselves—Don Pettit, Douglas Wheelock, Mario Runco Jr., Clayton “Clay” Anderson, and Sandra Magnus. What was it like? Their disarmingly honest answers help give us a feel of the human experience in space.