A total solar eclipse is a magical event to behold, which is why each eclipse draws thousands of people who want to experience it first-hand. With the advent of the internet, social media, and the ability to connect and communicate, scientists are now turning to these hoards of enthusiastic eclipse chasers to help document the events in a way that has never before been done. By taking advantage of the thousands of people who gather to experience the total solar eclipse, researchers with the Eclipse Megamovie Project are crowd-sourcing eclipse images from regular citizens to learn more about total solar eclipses.
Collecting this data gives the researchers more information and new vantage points that they otherwise would not be able to collect. Once these images have been gathered, researchers can review them and use them to compile them together into a “megamovie” that reveals the eclipse in a completely new way.
What is the Eclipse Megamovie Project?
The Eclipse Megamovie Project is a partnership between The UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory’s Multiverse Team and Google’s Making & Science Team. Some of the additional partners on the project include Eclipse Across America, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning at Oregon State University. In other words, this is a team effort, to say the least!
But the team doesn’t end there; the goal of the project is to tap into the power of everyday eclipse chasers by collecting thousands of photos taken throughout the path of totality. This provides researchers with tons of new data points from which they can further study eclipses.
The Eclipse Megamovie Project, 2017
The Project hit a milestone during the total solar eclipse on in North America on August 21, 2017. After collecting thousands of photos sent by hundreds of volunteers, the team of researchers at UC Berkeley was able to edit together video which provided an incredible, one-of-a-kind view of the atmosphere around the Sun.
Using a false-color set of images, Berkeley students Juan Camilo Guevara Gomez and Tushar Singla were able to draw contrast to and highlight the most fascinating aspects of the Sun’s atmosphere.
At the same time, Google released a megamovie which was put together using an algorithm on the day of the eclipse. The engine was able to compile photos in real time, resulting in a megamovie being released on the same day! As more information came in, however, Google revised their megamovie until they released a final version (Version 0.8) on October 5, 2017.
The UC Berkeley team is now seeking funding to continue to improve the Eclipse Megamovie Project for eclipses set to take place in the future, including the All American Eclipse taking place on April 8, 2024 in North America. The researchers hope to discover new, important scientific findings using the massive image dataset.
In the meantime, they encourage curious citizen scientists to explore the dataset of Megamovie images on Google Cloud Open Datasets!
How to Participate in the Eclipse Megamovie Project 2020
To participate in the Eclipse Megamovie Project, you must be planning to attend a total solar eclipse somewhere within the path of totality, bring your smartphone and a tripod. You can download the Eclipse Camera smartphone app for iOS and Android, which enables you to capture eclipse images and share them directly with scientists.
So, how does it work? The app will access your camera’s photography controls like exposure and focus to take photos of the eclipse throughout the event. It will also record your location using your phone’s compass and accelerometer. You must mount your phone on a tripod to ensure a still image and eliminate the guesswork on your part. After the eclipse, the built-in link to UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory will easily send your photos and data to the team of researchers.
It’s a tremendous undertaking, but with your help, these dedicated researchers can learn more about the science behind total solar eclipses!
Capture Your Own Professional Eclipse Images
Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a seasoned veteran, eclipse photography can take your experience to the next level. It’s a challenging but immensely rewarding effort that can provide you with your own unique eclipse images to keep for years to come
If you want to capture more professional photographs of an eclipse, you’re going to need to use special solar filters that fit on the end of your lens. At Rainbow Symphony, we design and manufacture the highest quality solar filters for cameras, telescopes, and binoculars, so you can view and photograph a solar eclipse safely.
Our solar filters meet the Standard for ISO 12312-2:2015 for safe solar viewing and offer more contrast and clarity than any other solar films. We offer a selection of solar filters to fit camera lenses of various sizes, including 50mm, 70mm, and 101mm.
Don’t Forget Your Eclipse Shades
Last but not least, regardless of whether you plan to participate in the Eclipse Megamovie Project using your smartphone or take photographs using a professional camera, you will need to use proper eyewear during the solar eclipse. Stock up on CE certified eclipse eyewear at Rainbow Symphony so you’re “totally” prepared for the next eclipse!