If you’re looking to add a little something to spice up your wallpaper and you want something more interesting than flashy, DesktopEarth might be a great mix. With DesktopEarth, you get a wallpaper of the Earth with the image updating to represent which part of the world is getting sunlight and which is in the dark. Along with that, you can add lights to the night part of the world and fairly accurate clouds. The Earth images come from NASA’s Blue Marble Next and Earth’s City Lights while the clouds come from the SourceForge project xPlanet.
The images are high quality and high resolution, so they look good on many resolutions. You can see the screenshot below of the Wallpaper fitting on my 20″ monitor with a resolution of 1680×1050.
You can also stretch the wallpaper across multiple monitors which works quite well, even if the monitors are of different resolution. The left half of the screen is the 20″ 1680×1050 monitor while the right half is a 19″ 1600×1200 monitor. It still looks good as it makes the jump from one monitor to another.
I like to have nice solid backgrounds, so the moving map and light plus the clouds can make it a little busy for a wallpaper. The clouds are optional and can be turned off. The busy background is another great reason for a previous article, Fences. It allows you to create a color scheme to cluster your icons and also set it apart from the background. You can see the two in action in the following screenshot.
There are plenty of options for configuring Desktop Earth. You can set:
- where the image is centered
- cloud thickness
- the seasonal image for the Earth in daylight
- what the night image contains (city lights, shadows, or moonlit surface)
- the frequency that the image updates
- an Active Desktop version of the wallpaper (if you don’t have a 64-bit OS)
You can also set how often the clouds update: every 3, 6, 12, or 24 hours and what servers they pull from.
DesktopEarth is basically a normal wallpaper like usual combined with a service to update it to current conditions. That service idles around 1.5 to 3 megabytes of memory while idle and spikes to around 40 MB for a second when changes are made to the options before returning to the 1.5-3MB range.
If you like the image and some of the options, but don’t care about the updates you should check out the static wallpaper generator available from the same site. You can set a lot of the options and resolution and then generate a picture for yourself.
If you want the full thing, like I have pictured in the screenshots download this free app from CodeFromThe70s.org