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earth_tools is a wrapper around the wonderful webservices, which allows you to determine the sea level height, time zone, and surise/sunset times from a set of coordinates.


  • Supports Ruby 1.9.3, 2.0.0, & 2.1.5

Will be testing on other versions in the future.

Installation instructions

Add to your Gemfile:

gem 'earth_tools'

and then run bundle:

$ bundle install

and you are done!


The run down of the 3 major functions available

Time zone

result = EarthTools.time_zone(latitude, longitude)
# Example
result = EarthTools.time_zone(40.71417, -74.00639) # New York City
result.iso_time   # => 2012-06-14 12:56:40 -0500
result.utc_offset # => -5
result.utc_time   # => 2012-06-14 17:56:40 +0000

Height above/below sea level

result = EarthTools.height(latitude, longitude)
# Example
result = EarthTools.height(52.4822, -1.8946) # Birmingham, AL
result.meters # => 141
result.feet   # => 462.6
result.height # => 462.6 (when EarthTools::Configuration.units is set to :english units)

Sunrise/sunset times

result = EarthTools.sunrise_sunset(latitude, longitude, month, day, timezone, dst)
# Example
result = EarthTools.sunrise_sunset(40.71417, -74.00639, 12, 4, -5, 0) # New York City, December 4th
result.sunrise     # => 2012-12-04 07:05:50 -0500
result.sunset      # => 2012-12-04 16:26:59 -0500


# Configure block (set to defaults)
EarthTools.configure do |config|
  config.always_raise = []              # Add any errors that you would like to be custom handled, see "Error handling" section below
  config.cache = nil                    # Cache object (see Caching section for what methods are required)
  config.cache_prefix = "earth_tools:"  # Prefix to use for cache keys
  config.timeout = 3                    # Timeout in seconds
  config.units = :english               # Also, can specify :metric
# Static call
EarthTools::Configuration.timeout = 5   # Set timeout to 5 seconds

Earth Tool API restrictions


Earth Tools imposes some usage restrictions that are duplicated below (these restrictions may not be kept up-to-date, so please check the website):

  1. You must not make more than 1 (one) request per second to these webservices.
  2. You must cache results if you believe that you will need to make another identical request within any 24-hour period.
  3. You must delete any cached data when you no longer need it and in any case after 14 days. You should then make a new request for the data in line with the previous two rules. If you wish to keep access to data I am able to license the data for use in this way.


It is recommended to cache retrieved data when relying on an external service. You can configure a cache store:

EarthTools::Configuration.cache =
EarthTools::Configuration.cache_prefix = "..." # Provide a custom cache prefix, defaults to 'earth_tools:'

The cache store can be any object that supports the following methods:

#[](key)Retrieves a value by with the key
#[]=(key, value)Stores a value with the key
#keysRetrieves all keys
Deletes a key

If you need to expire cached content:

EarthTools.cache.expire("http://...") # Expire cached result for a URL
EarthTools.cache.expire(:all)         # Expire all cached results

There is no need to include the prefix when passing a URL to be expired. Expiring :all will only expire keys with the configured prefix (won't kill every entry in your key/value store).

Error handling

By default Earth Tools will rescue any exceptions raised by calls to the webservice and return an empty array (using warn() to inform you of the error). You can override this and implement custom error handling for certain exceptions by using the :always_raise option:

EarthTools::Configuration.always_raise = [SocketError, TimeoutError]

Issues & contributing

Please post any issues to the issues queue on github.

License and attributions

This gem's structure and design borrows heavily from geocoder, so thanks to its author. This repository is released under the MIT license (see the LICENSE for full text).

Find me on twitter @maxckramer.