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Watch from space as Burning Man rises out of the desert playa

David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

The weeklong countercultural festival that attracts thousands to the Nevada desert annually known as Burning Man is nearly here.

While the festival officially kicks off on Aug. 27, satellite imagery shows that organizers have been on the site for weeks, laying out streets and erecting structures. As you can see in the satellite imagery above, from Planet, activity at the site has accelerated in recent days. (Slide your finger or mouse from left to right over the image to track the progress.)

The “citizens” of the festival construct a city—complete with coffee shops and a department of public works—in a semi-circular “street” grid. Participants fill in the blocks with with tents, RVs, sculptures, and temporary storefronts (though transactional exchanges of goods and services are antithetical to the event’s principle of “decommodification”). This year’s city has 13 concentric and 33 radial streets.

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