strange 'lights' on Apple Maps

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by -BigMac-, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. -BigMac- macrumors 6502a

    -BigMac-

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    #1
    Hey guys.
    Bored at the moment scouring random places on apple maps, as one does at 2am..

    Didnt have to look far to find something really odd.
    Our own desert, in Australia is COMPLETELY lit up at night time.

    So thats not really realistic, as zooming in on those lit up places shows theres nothing there but sand..

    [​IMG]

    So my question is..
    How does Apple get these "night time lights" on their maps? Do they use satellite or are they "manually placed to add realism?

    Because if they're satellite images.. can someone please explain what is lighting up our desert more than our capital cities?

    Sorry for the long thread description, but i'm really curious :)
    Thanks so much!
     
  2. L Caputo macrumors regular

    L Caputo

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    #2
    I think they are bush fires.
     
  3. -BigMac- thread starter macrumors 6502a

    -BigMac-

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    #3
    For several reasons i really think thats not the case. For one, if those were fires they have burnt down half of Western Australia. Which has never happened..

    Secondly most the fires are started by stupid people so theyre usually somewhere near a capital city.. In this case theyre 1000-2000km from nearest capital city

    Lastly theres nothing flammable in those areas. Unless the sand spontaneously combusted lol
     
  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #4
    It's a good question. It's the wrong time of day here in the U.S. to check that part of the map, but those areas that are in the dark seem pretty convincing. It's at least conceivable the mapping is done on the basis of population density data, rather than actual photography, but there are apparent anomalies, if it's population alone. Since it's easier to judge in semi-rural/semi-urban areas... I'd think the area around Halifax, Nova Scotia would be significantly brighter than the area around Sydney, Nova Scotia, yet Sydney seem the greater.

    I checked an obvious, near-dark desert region - Tibet. There are lights in the Taklamakan Desert, which seemed odd at first. When I zoomed in, however, there are roads, apparent mining/mineral facilities and small settlements that roughly agree with the lights seen. They do, however, seem brighter than one would expect.

    Theory? For the sake of visibility, the dynamic range was compressed (dim areas brighter, densely illuminated areas dimmer).
     
  5. -BigMac- thread starter macrumors 6502a

    -BigMac-

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    #5
    thank you so much for the reply, and the research you have done. :)
    I agree with the compression, it would explain a lot.. they want the maps to appear attractive and lit up as opposed to dimmed.

    if possible, can you check the parts of the australian desert, where it is lit up? i can not see one single structure/road anywhere near those lights.

    mind you.. that is deep desert, with barely any towns.. and if there is a town it would be like 200-300 people.. nothing close to the huge 500km x 500km populated/ lit up thriving communities it portrays on the night time map.. :)
     
  6. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #6
    If I'm awake while that part of Australia is in the dark, i will. Since I'm on the U.S. East Coast and am a night owl... Specifically, are you interested in the area of Great Victoria Desert Nature Reserve, or are there other desert regions as well? Please name them, I'm not very familiar with Australia's specifics (I know Alice Springs is supposed to be dry and remote - never heard of Finke Gorge National Park until I looked closely at the map).

    Deserts may be desolate, but as I noted earlier, there can be more human activity than we assume. Mining operations may run 24/7 under bright work lights, for example. They may be highly mechanized, there may be few human habitations nearby, but they'll still put a bright glow on the map (one that is more evident because it isn't swamped by other nearby illumination).
     
  7. L Caputo macrumors regular

    L Caputo

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    #7
  8. -BigMac- thread starter macrumors 6502a

    -BigMac-

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    Apr 15, 2011
    #8
    literally anywhere west of the 'northern territory', there should be no lights until you reach Perth. on the west coast.

    could they be clouds which were picked up on the scan? im assuming apple wouldnt make such a mistake
    --- Post Merged, Jan 20, 2016 ---
    It is very common for anyone without knowledge of the huge scale of Australia to be presuming fires etc. The reasoning behind the lights which you brought up are completely relevant, if only the scale of those explanations would match those lights.

    We are talking HUGE areas. western Australia alone takes 3 hours to fly over using a commercial airliner. these are massive scales.

    Australias total population is just over 20million.
    That little spot in the bottom left corner, called perth is one of australias capital cities, is home to 1/10th of australias total population..

    those lights in the desert though.. thats something huge..
     
  9. L Caputo macrumors regular

    L Caputo

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    #9
    So you're not convinced by NASAs explanation.
     
  10. -BigMac- thread starter macrumors 6502a

    -BigMac-

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    #11
    oh wow i didnt click the link sorry! i was at work haha

    Thats amazing nasa actually wrote an article on it. thank you so much for figuring it out haha :)
     
  11. insomniac86 macrumors regular

    insomniac86

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    Oct 13, 2015
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #12
    I know you have now read the article. But i wanted to comment on one of your points:

    "Secondly most the fires are started by stupid people so theyre usually somewhere near a capital city.. In this case theyre 1000-2000km from nearest capital city"

    No, just no. You couldn't be more wrong. There's around 50,000 bush fires burning in the Australian outback in a single year! If you fly from Perth to Sydney you can often see 3 or 4 bush fires burning that aren't that close to populated area's.

    Source: i worked for Department of Environment. Source: Research it, there's heaps stats on google.
     
  12. Beachguy macrumors 6502a

    Beachguy

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    Nov 23, 2011
    #13
    I think this requires in person investigation, and am willing to travel to Australia personally to check out the cause. I won't even ask for more than expenses.
     

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