Catfood Earth turns your Desktop wallpaper into a real time display of the Earth’s surface.
New: Catfood Earth is now available for Android phones and tablets.
Earth combines satellite images, composite global cloud cover, weather radar, recent earthquake data, the extent of daylight and nighttime, political borders and more to regularly update your wallpaper.
Download the free 30-day trial to experience Catfood Earth.
Catfood Earth starts with NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation images of the Earth’s surface. NASA provides an image for each month. Catfood Earth combines (interpolates) these to create daily images that show snow/ice cover and vegetation growing and dying back throughout the year.
The next layer shows nighttime by calculating the location of the Sun and its height above or below the horizon from the perspective of each pixel on the screen. NASA’s City Lights image is then blended with the Blue Marble layer. You can adjust the transparency of this effect and also the width of shading used to indicate the terminator between day and night.
Lastly clouds are blended with the image. Catfood Earth downloads a global cloud composite image from Xplanet every three hours. The coloring and transparency of the cloud layer are fully adjustable.
The changes are barely perceptible each time Earth updates your wallpaper. Over the course of a year you’ll see the summer and winter solstices (with the longest days in the northern and southern hemispheres) and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (when the day is approximately the same length everywhere). You’ll also track hurricanes and typhoons as the clouds layer updates.
Time Zones Theme
The time zones theme color codes countries and regions to show their current time zone. This isn’t a static map, it’s a combination of Eric Muller’s timezone shapefile and the public domain tz database that updates throughout the year with global daylight savings rules.
You can also display places with their current time labeled as well as or instead of the time zone map. The colors, international time zone lines and transparency are all completely customizable. This theme is great for frequent travelers, or if you make overseas calls and would like to know the current local time. It also makes a great lobby display for your company as you can enter your own list of places and show the local time in offices around the world.
The Earthquakes theme uses USGS data to display magnitude 2.5 or greater earthquakes over the past 24 hours. Older earthquakes gradually become more transparent so it’s easy to see how recently a quake occurred. The display optionally labels each quake with its magnitude, time and location. As with other layers you can configure colors and transparency, as well as a magnitude threshold to exclude smaller earthquakes.
Catfood Earth Videos
The following animations were made using Catfood Earth.
Seasons shows the extent of day and night over the course of a year at noon GMT. You can also see changes in snow and ice cover. If you watch closely you’ll also see vegetation growing and dying back.
Time Zone Changes
Time Zone Changes shows the Catfood Earth time zone map updating as countries and regions enter or leave daylight saving time. This shows how Catfood Earth maintains accuracy throughout the year. If you’ve ever lusted after a Geochron this feature might save you a couple of thousand dollars!
Shows earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or higher during November, 2010. Each quake fades over 24 hours (2 seconds in the video, not quite so fast on your desktop!). The earthquakes layer in Catfood Earth can be tuned to show only higher magnitude quakes and also to show less than a day of USGS data.
Catfood Earth Layers
Themes combine popular layers and settings to help you get started with Catfood Earth quickly. If you’d like to customize Earth completely you can choose which layers to enable and control the look and feel of each layer. This includes custom images, colors, transparency and places among other options.
Catfood Earth ships with two options for the Day Map layer. The image above is based on NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation satellite imagery. Catfood Earth combines monthly images so the background you see is actually subtly different every day. Watch the seasons video above to see this transition over the course of a year.
The second option is a different NASA image that works well if the bright snow and ice of Blue Planet Next Generation is too much of a distraction. You can see this map being used to display the Earthquakes and Volcanoes layers below. If neither option is just right you can use any equirectangular projection image for the Day Map.
The Clouds layer is updated every three hours with a composite of GEOS, METEOSAT and GMS images created and distributed by Hari Nair of Xplanet. Combined with the Night Map (see below) this completes the Natural Theme and is the most popular Catfood Earth configuration.
The Night Map layer shows the extent of day and night around the world. NASA’s City Lights image is drawn with no transparency at nighttime, full transparency at daytime with a graduation between the two at the terminator. The effect can be tuned so that the terminator is completely sharp or to display an attractive blend around sunrise/sunset.
The Time Zones layer allows you to see the current time around the world at a glance. The time zone overlay is highly accurate, changing throughout the year as countries and regions enter and leave daylight savings. It even supports non-integral time zones like India (UTC +5:30) and Nepal (UTC +5:45).
You can choose whether to display the country shading, international zone shading and boundaries and the International Date Line as well as being able to fully customize colors and transparency. The same time zone engine drives the Places layer (see below) so you can also plot locations with an accurate display of local time.
The Political Borders layer uses Eric Muller’s FIPS 10-4 data to display each country. This works well in combination with the Time Zones layer or the Places layer.
The Places layer shows a list of locations. You can optionally set the time zone for each place and show the current local time. Earth includes a list of major cities. You can customize this list or replace it completely. I use it to display a list of friends and family around the world together with their current time. A company could use this layer to show a list of offices or customers.
The Earthqukes layer displays live data from the USGS. I often notice a major quake on Catfood Earth before I hear it reported on the news. Earth plots a circle proportional to the magnitude of the quake together with the magnitude, description and time reported by USGS.
The Volcanoes layer displays weekly data from The Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. Earth displays each volcano with recent activity together with an optional description.
The image above also shows a custom rotation, to 180 degrees longitude (best for keeping an eye on that Pacific ring of fire). Catfood Earth can rotate the map to a specific longitude, or to a specific solar time.
Want advanced warning when a storm is rolling in? The Weather Radar layer allows you to overlay the current radar image from hundreds of locations in the United States. For each location you can choose the radar type: Base Reflectivity, Storm Relative Motion, Base Velocity, One-Hour Precipitation, Composite Reflectivity or Storm Total Precipitation. I prefer One-Hour Precipitation which allows me to watch storm fronts sweeping in to San Francisco over the Pacific.
This layer only supports US based weather radar at present. If you have the URL of an image and of an associated GFW file you can enter these directly.