Be the Part of Solar Eclipse Megamovie

Be the Part of Solar Eclipse Megamovie

University of California and Google is seeking volunteers to make a "Megamovie” of the solar eclipse that will pass through North America on August 21, 2017. According to an announcement from the University of California, the agenda of this first-of-its-kind citizen science project is to document the upcoming solar eclipse and to help scientist in discovering more information about the sun's corona, the atmosphere above the solar surface.

The idea was proposed by Hugh Hudson who is a solar physicist at UC Berkeley, and Scott McIntosh, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research's High Altitude Observatory in 2011 and now it's starting to take a form.

Hudson said regarding the collection of data from the volunteers that,

"We'll be collecting this level of data for the first time, from millions of observers, and it will be a valuable archive".

The idea of this Eclipse Megamovie Project is to collect high-quality images and videos from more than 1,000 chosen and trained volunteer photographers and amateur astronomers as well as from the public taking photos of the coming solar eclipse with a Smartphone. The data will then be assembled such that it creates an expanded and continuous view of the total eclipse as it crosses the United States. The team says that, by April, it should have an app that takes time coded pictures of the eclipse. The app will allow users to upload photos for another, lower-resolution film.

​A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon passes through the Earth and the Sun, the moon throws a shadow over the Earth's surface. When the disk of the moon entirely covers the disk of the sun, the sun's corona can be visualized which is normally hidden from the Earth's surface. The entire period lasts hardly a few minutes which is theoretically not more than seven minutes and thirty seconds with most eclipses striking the two to three minutes spot. The period is too short for scientific study. Even airplanes cannot follow the moon's shadow since it moves approximately 2,400 km/h.

NASA presently has instruments in space that use coronagraphs (an instrument that blocks the disc of the sun, which makes it possible to see the corona) to examine the sun's atmosphere. But even with coronagraphs, the light from the chromosphere (sun's lower atmosphere) cannot be studied.

"We don't know what we'll see or what we'll learn about the interactions between the chromosphere and the corona," Hudson says.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is reaching out to more than 400 amateur astronomy groups and encouraging them to participate in the project.

To contribute to this high-resolution Megamovie, contributors must have a digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR, with a zoom lens of at least 300 millimeters, plus a support and the ability to record their GPS location and the local time to within 1 second in coordinated universal time (UTC), the world's clock standard.

The first report of the eclipse Megamovie is supposed to be ready online a few hours after the eclipse ends at 1:49 p.m. EDT (1749 GMT).
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