August 21, 2017 will be a very special day. For the first time in 100 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the United States. It’s not only an opportunity for millions of people to appreciate this rare astronomical event, but a chance for scientists to gain a better understanding of how the sun’s atmosphere behaves. Enter the Eclipse Megamovie Project.
Led by the University of California at Berkeley, scientists from multiple universities are turning to citizen scientists for help gathering images of the sun and its atmosphere, the corona. Volunteers armed with standard photography equipment—a camera, telephoto lens, and tripod—will capture photos of the eclipse as the moon’s shadow passes over their part of the country. Once this huge dataset is collected, it’s Google’s turn. We’ll use our technology to algorithmically align and process the images submitted by citizen scientists to create a continuous view of the eclipse: the Eclipse Megamovie.
In addition to the movie, the full dataset of images will be made available to the public and the scientific community. Time will only tell what insights and projects may come from this rich collection.
If you’ll be on the path of totality and plan on taking pictures, the project needs your help. Head to the Megamovie website to learn more about how to join and take the best eclipse photographs possible.