Lux: Boston

All photos by Christina Seely // Above: Metropolis 42°22' N 71°2' W (Boston)

Our planet has been drastically altered by the rapid advancement of human civilization. In addition to scaling mountains and exploring the ocean's deepest depths, we've also carved through all manner of terrain and harvested more than our share of natural resources. And in the past century, we've begun to notice the effects.

One of the most striking visual representations of these changes can be found in a famous NASA satellite photo (seen below), which shows the dazzling expanse of cities illuminating the Earth at night. This light pollution may be strangely beautiful, but it also serves as an example of how humans have made their mark on nature.

NASA world map at night

It is this same NASA image that inspired photographer Christina Seely to embark on her "Lux" series, which explores the beauty of man-made illumination in cities (like New York, above) while also reflecting our influence on the planet.

"For millions of years only dramatic shifts in terrain informed the reading of the earth’s surface from space," Seely writes. "Now the cumulative light from highly urbanized areas creates a new type of information and understanding of the world that reflects human’s dominance over the planet. "

For the project, Seely photographed major cities in the United States, Japan and western Europe to contrast the beauty and complexity of these man-made light sources.

"These economically and politically powerful regions not only have the greatest impact on the night sky, but this brightness reflects a dominant cumulative impact on the planet," Seely explains. "Collectively they emit approximately 45 percent of the world's CO2 and (along with China) act as the top consumers of electricity, energy and resources."

Continue below to see more photos from "Lux," which will be released as a book in this spring and will be on display at the David Brower Center in Berkley, California, from Feb. 12 to May 14. You can also see more of Seely's work on her website.

Lux: Tokyo

Metropolis 35° 41’N 139° 46’E (Tokyo)

Lux: New York

Metropolis 40°47' N 73°58' W (New York)

Lux: Nagoya

Metropolis 35° 10’N 136° 50’E (Nagoya)

Lux: Amsterdam

Metropolis 52° 23' N 4° 55' E (Amsterdam)

Lux: Kyoto

Metropolis 35°00’N 135°45’E (Kyoto)

Lux: London

Metropolis 51° 29' N 0° 0' W (London)

Lux: Paris

Metropolis 48° 52’ N 2° 19’ E (Paris)

Lux: Kansas City

Metropolis 39° 7' N 94° 35' W (Kansas City)

Lux: Brussels

Metropolis 50° 48' N 4° 21' E (Brussels)

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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