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Beijing

16 February 2018

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Today, 16 February, upwards of 20% of the world's population will be celebrating Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. According to the traditional Chinese calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle and the position of the Sun, the New Year changes each year, but always falls between 21 January and 20 February. There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals that represent years, and 2018 is the year of the dog.

Marking this special day, we take a look at a Sentinel-2 image of Beijing, the capital of China, which was captured on 03 May 2016.  It is one of the most populous cities in the world, with over 21 million people, but during the New Year millions travel from the big cities back to their hometowns to spend the holiday with their families in what is considered the world's largest annual migration.

Beijing lies in northeast China at the northern tip of the North China Plain. While the city lies on flat ground, it is surrounded by mountains to the north and west (not pictured). From space, the city appears to be divided up into many squares, which is a consequence of it being one of oldest planned cities in the world. Beijing's present urban form was established in the early Ming dynasty – between 1368 and 1644 – with planning stipulating that the city should be a square encompassing nine avenues running north–south and nine running east–west.

Beijing

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Discover more about our planet with the Earth from Space video programme. Join ESA every Friday at 10:00 CEST for an 800 km-high tour with spectacular images from Earth-observing satellites.

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The Earth Watching project is an ESA/ESRIN service to help local authorities and to promote the benefits of remote sensing data during emergencies, sending images and articles to newspapers, magazines and TV stations.

The Earth Watching website features not only imagery of natural disasters, but also promotes various satellite remote sensing applications through images and articles. Some examples are shown in the special events part of the website.

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