Lights of Mankind: Earth At Night as Seen From Space (Hybrid)


The Filson Historical Society Tue, Jun 28, 2022 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Humans have always been fascinated with looking at themselves. They pass down myths about

the dangers of trying to kiss one’s own reflection. They use self- recognition to test interspecies

intelligence. And 17,300 years after the first Paleolithic painter immortalized a fellow hunter on a

cave wall in Lascaux, France, patrons still flock to art galleries to purchase new portrayals of

themselves and their society.


With the dawn of space exploration, humanity encountered a new perspective. From

space, the planet appeared smaller and the greatest of humanity’s creations, larger. Hundreds of

miles above Earth’s surface, petty issues of individuality disappear to reveal the complex

grandeur of civilization. Containing 287 astronaut photographs and composite images, L.

Douglas Keeney’s newest book, Lights of Mankind: The Earth at Night as Seen from Space,

turns this macro view into something beautiful and informative.


For Keeney, cofounder of the Military Channel (owned by Discovery Communications)

and author of ten books on military history, Lights of Mankind represents a departure from his

usual arena. He brings to this collection not only a sense of wonder at what humans ha ve created

but also a historian’s understanding of why and how.


With each series of photographs, Keeney highlights important chapters of the human

story, from the role of agriculture along the Nile that became the cobra- like line of lights seen

today from space to the levees shaping New Orleans. Due to the brevity of his observations and

the large format of the night-sky photographs, viewers can appreciate what they see without

being overwhelmed. Along with his own notes, Keeney also includes a series of first-hand

accounts from the astronauts themselves. These essays offer a look at the technology used to

make photography possible from the International Space Station, as well as a the sense of

wonder one feels 220 miles above home.


Douglas Keeney is an historian, researcher, speaker and author of more than a dozen books on American history.