Set near-realtime picture of Earth as your desktop background


Put near-realtime picture of Earth as your desktop background

24 hours long animation by /u/hardypart

himawaripy is a Python 3 script that fetches near-realtime (10 minutes delayed) picture of Earth as its taken by Himawari 8 (ひまわり8号) and sets it as your desktop background.

Set a cronjob (or systemd service) that runs in every 10 minutes to automatically get the near-realtime picture of Earth.

Supported Desktop Environments


  • Unity 7
  • Mate 1.8.1
  • Pantheon
  • LXDE
  • OS X
  • GNOME 3
  • Cinnamon 2.8.8
  • KDE

Not Supported

  • any other desktop environments that are not mentioned above.


usage:  [-h] [--version] [--auto-offset | -o OFFSET] [-l {4,8,16,20}]
        [-d DEADLINE] [--save-battery] [--output-dir OUTPUT_DIR]

set (near-realtime) picture of Earth as your desktop background

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --version             show program's version number and exit
  --auto-offset         determine offset automatically
  -o OFFSET, --offset OFFSET
                        UTC time offset in hours, must be less than or equal
                        to +10
  -l {4,8,16,20}, --level {4,8,16,20}
                        increases the quality (and the size) of each tile.
                        possible values are 4, 8, 16, 20
  -d DEADLINE, --deadline DEADLINE
                        deadline in minutes to download all the tiles, set 0
                        to cancel
  --save-battery        stop updating on battery
  --output-dir OUTPUT_DIR
                        directory to save the temporary background image

Most of the time himawaripy can accurately detect your timezone if you pass the flag --auto-offset, although you may also set it manually by -o (or --offset) flag. If your timezone is beyond GMT by more than 10 hours, use the closest one (either +10 or -12).

Increasing the level will increase the quality of the image as well as the time taken to download all the tiles and the memory consumption. For instance choosing 20 will make himawaripy use ~700 MiB of memory at its peak and the image will be around ~200 MB.

You should set a deadline compatible with your cronjob (or timer) settings to assure that script will terminate in X minutes before it is started again.

You might use --save-battery to disable refreshing while running on battery power.


If you use nitrogen for setting your wallpaper, you have to enter this in your ~/.config/nitrogen/bg-saved.cfg.



  • You need a valid python3 installation including the python3-setuptools package
cd ~
git clone

# install
sudo python3 install

# test whether it's working
himawaripy --auto-offset

# Get the installation path of himawaripy by running the command
which -- himawaripy

# Set himawaripy to be called periodically

    ## Either set up a cronjob
        crontab -e

        ### Add the line:
        */10 * * * * <INSTALLATION_PATH> # command line arguments here

    ## OR, alternatively use the provided systemd timer

        ### Configure
        vi systemd/himawaripy.service
        # Replace "<INSTALLATION_PATH>" with the output of the aforementioned command and command line arguments

        ### Copy systemd configuration
        cp systemd/himawaripy.{service,timer} ~/.config/systemd/user/

        ### Enable and start the timer
        systemctl --user enable --now himawaripy.timer

For KDE Users

KDE 5.7+

To change the wallpaper in KDE 5.7+, desktop widgets must be unlocked. If you dom't want to leave them unlocked, the pre-KDE 5.7 method can still be used.

To unlock desktop widgets (from the KDE userbase):

Open the Desktop Toolbox or the Panel Toolbox or right click on the Desktop - if you see an item labeled Unlock Widgets then select that, and then proceed to add widgets to your Desktop or your Panel.

Before KDE 5.7

So the issue here is that KDE does not support changing the desktop wallpaper from the commandline, but it does support polling a directory for file changes through the "Slideshow" desktop background option, whereby you can point KDE to a folder and have it load a new picture at a certain interval.

The idea here is to:

  • Set the cron for some interval (say 9 minutes)
  • Open Desktop Settings -> Wallpaper -> Wallpaper Type -> Slideshow
  • Add the ~/.himawari dir to the slideshow list
  • Set the interval check to 10 minutes (one minute after the cron, also depending on your download speed)

Many thanks to xenithorb for the solution!

For Mac OSX Users

OSX has deprecated crontab, and replaced it with launchd. To set up a launch agent, copy the provided sample plist file in osx/org.boramalper.himawaripy.plist to ~/Library/LaunchAgents, and edit the following entries if required

mkdir -p ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
cp osx/org.boramalper.himawaripy.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
  • ProgrammingArguments needs to be the path to himawaripy installation. This should be /usr/local/bin/himawaripy by default, but himawaripy may be installed elsewhere.

  • StartInterval controls the interval between successive runs, set to 10 minutes (600 seconds) by default, edit as desired.

Finally, to launch it, enter this into the console:

launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.boramalper.himawaripy.plist


# Remove the cronjob
crontab -e
# Remove the line
*/10 * * * * <INSTALLATION_PATH>

# OR if you used the systemd timer
systemctl --user disable --now himawaripy.timer
rm $HOME/.config/systemd/user/himawaripy.{timer,service}

# Uninstall the binary

# Uninstall the package
sudo pip3 uninstall himawaripy

<INSTALLATION_PATH> can be found using the command which -- himawaripy.

If you would like to share why, you can contact me on github or send an e-mail.


Thanks to MichaelPote for the initial implementation using Powershell Script.

Thanks to Charlie Loyd for image processing logic (

Obviously, thanks to the Japan Meteorological Agency for opening these pictures to public.