Software Development
Cybersecurity / Good Works / Social media

This Philly-made bot makes kickass GIFs of Planet Earth

@himawari8bot, a creation of Philly-based self-taught dev Jeremy Low, tweets out a handful of GIFs a day using images from a Japanese satellite.

Just look at that pale blue dot. (GIF by @himawari8)

When Jeremy Low, a Philly-based paralegal and self-taught dev, gave us a much appreciated retweet the other day, associate editor Juliana Reyes couldn’t help but lurk around his Twitter account and see that he’d created a curious lil bot called Himawari8.

The bot, named after Japan’s Himawari 8 weather satellite, does nothing but select imagery coming from the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University and churn out GIFs of Mother Earth every three hours or so.

Like this one:

Or this one:

“When I started the project, the bot was just tweeting out full disk images like this and the only text in the tweet was the timestamp of the last image in the GIF,” Low said in an email. “But then I went back and started fiddling with the code and having the bot tweet out close crop videos like this one.”

Himawari8bot went live in April of 2016 and it has yielded some pretty, er, interesting uses so far:

“One odd thing has been the Flat-Earth-Twitter folks,” Low said. “They’ve got this thing where they think NASA is fake and in on a conspiracy to … something? But because the bot takes its feed from a Japanese weather satellite, it’s often used to prove the Flat Earthers wrong or convince them of a spherical Earth, because somehow they’ll trust the Japanese?”

Low was kind enough to post the code for the bot in his GitHub account so devs can tweak it and make their own versions. You can also read more about how it came together in this blog post.

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