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Time-lapse video of every Seattle sunset, created by engineer’s Twitter bot


Alan Hussey uses suction cups to mount a camera to his 19th-floor window inside Smith Tower. Two hours of sunset footage are used to create a 30-second time-lapse video each day. — Seattle Times/TNS

Alan Hussey uses suction cups to mount a camera to his 19th-floor window inside Smith Tower. Two hours of sunset footage are used to create a 30-second time-lapse video each day. — Seattle Times/TNS

SEATTLE: 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 co-workers, 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 recently, but Hussey says it should be up and running again.) 

On top of Hussey's web cam is a Lego figure of a camera man on a ladder. From Alan Hussey's 19th floor window inside Smith Tower he gets an unobstructed view of sunset over Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. He captures it on a web camera -- mounted here on his office window -- and posts it every day on Twitter at @GoldenHourSEA. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/TNS)
On top of Hussey's web cam is a Lego figure of a camera man on a ladder. From his 19th floor window inside Smith Tower, he gets an unobstructed view of sunset over Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. He captures it on a web camera – mounted here on his office window – and posts it every day on Twitter at @GoldenHourSEA. — Seattle Times/TNS

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 (7pm to 10pm), 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, his “phone has been buzzing nonstop with notifications of likes and follows, so I think folks are really enjoying it.”

From Alan Hussey's 19th-floor office window inside Smith Tower, he gets an unobstructed view of the sunset over Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. He captures it on a web camera -- mounted here on the window -- and posts it every day on Twitter at @GoldenHourSEA. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/TNS)
Hussey was surprised just how many people also enjoyed sunset pictures. — Seattle Times/TNS

His personal favourites are the cloudy ones. 

“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 favourite 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." 

Among his favourites are @pomological, @NYT4thDownBot, @ _ statbot, @VeryOldTweets, @moonphasenow and @everyword, which inspired Hussey's other Twitter bot, @mispeleveryword. 

“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. — The Seattle Times/Tribune News Service

   

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