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Where are the light sources? Sometimes i rotate my view away from lit surfaces on planets or stations expecting to find a star close by but i dont see anything. Am i just not looking hard enough or are there not always a specific light source?

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The light you are looking for is in fact from a nearby star or planet glow 100% of the time.

Elite Dangerous models many things in our galaxy 1:1, save for very few scenarios (like currently black holes do not have Accretion Disks). It does model light well, though. Light does not fade or stop in the vacuum of space like it does fade here on earth. If it did fade or dissipate, our night sky would be very very bleak, as the stars we see in them are usually lightyears away.

Here is a quick little Q&A done by the Department of Physics at Illinois University on the subject of light travel in space.

Elite Dangerous employs 2 features into your ship that help you see in the dark (as rare as it is)

  1. All ships come with Night vision, this is toggled on from your ship menu, and outlines all objects and gives them a glow so you can see clearly in low light situations
  2. All ships come with powerful headlights, these bright lights will visibily shine out to about 200-500m depending on your ship and help you navigate dark asteroid fields with ease. These are toggle on from the same Ship menu.
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The game does some kind of automatic low-light mode when you are in shadow. Think of it like your ship has automatic night-vision goggles. This is most noticeable when you fly to the unlit side of a planet, and after a few seconds you can start seeing details on the dark side of the planet.

Note that this does not work in asteroid fields for some reason. So RES hunting in the shadow of a planet is extremely dangerous. :)

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