From the 19th floor of the Smith Tower, Alan Hussey's Twitter bot is capturing Seattle sunsets. Now you'll never miss another sunset again.
If you’ve ever been stuck inside and missed what you suspected was a spectacular sunset, you can rest easy now.
Alan Hussey, a front-end software engineer who works for software company EnergySavvy on the 19th floor of Smith Tower, has created a Twitter bot that posts a time-lapse video of the sunset every evening.
Building on software created by some of his coworkers, Hussey added the finishing touches to get it set up and running as well as adding the weather software for the bot. The software is run on a Raspberry Pi model 3 computer, a small computer that’s still powerful enough to generate the videos Hussey posts on his Twitter account, Golden Hour Seattle. (A technical glitch prevented the bot from working correctly over the weekend, but Hussey says it should be up and running again on Monday.)
And he used the computer’s Pi camera module, which he affixed to his office’s west-facing window with a suction cup, to take the daily two-hour videos that are then condensed into 30-second bites.
In a way, his project was motivated by his personal desire to see the sunset every day.
“During the winter we have a wonderful view of the sunset during working hours, but as sunset shifts to (7 to 10 p.m.), I wanted to be able to see the sunset without having to stay at work,” he said in a recent text-message conversation.
Hussey said he knew that he and plenty of other people enjoyed sunset pictures — but he was surprised to learn just how much.
Since he posted his videos on a Seattle Reddit thread last week, his “phone has been buzzing nonstop with notifications of likes and follows, so I think folks are really enjoying it.”
His personal favorites are the cloudy ones.
sunset at 07:10PM
12% cloud cover
winds about 7mph from the east pic.twitter.com/IX6pC55han
— Golden Hour Seattle (@goldenhourSEA) March 13, 2018
“Clouds take on a very different character when you see them sped up like this,” he said. “I love to watch the ships skate around on the bay too, or the big container ships being spun around in place by a couple tugboats before sailing away. That might be my favorite part, actually.”
Although he has not taken any sunrise videos, he hopes the bio on his Twitter account, which has a link to the software, will make it easy for someone else to do that.
Hussey also wanted to put in a good word for the Twitter bot community, where artists are exploring the medium in new ways, creating some “really cool or beautiful or funny things.”
“I would love to see more Twitter accounts set up to post sunsets (or sunrises) from all over the world. I’ve already heard from a couple folks who want to set up their own. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to watch the sunset all day long?” he said.