Please Enjoy This Total Eclipse ‘Megamovie’

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 23, 2017 2:30 pm

As the eclipse laid a swath of darkness across the heart of the United States, thousands of amateur photographers pointed phones and cameras skyward to memorialize the occasion.

The images together comprise a mosaic of stellar imagery spanning more than an hour and a half, and give scientists a chance to study a feature of the sun still shrouded in mystery: the corona. The delicate atmosphere of our home star, the corona is a wispy collection of charged particles that extends millions of miles above the sun’s surface. It’s also much hotter than the surface itself, a phenomenon that scientists still don’t completely understand.

The Eclipse Megamovie, a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley and Google, is giving astronomers a trove of data to analyze the corona by assembling images from photographers along the path of totality. They’ve just released the first, preliminary glimpse of the movie as they begin to stitch the shots together. The result is a series of shots of the occluded sun, with the corona on full display. Each clip is time-stamped, and they all come together in a kind of flip-book view of the sun as the moon’s shadow races across the country.

The movie will be filled out with many more images as the researchers continue to add them; they say that well over 1,000 people participated. While researchers are able to study the corona using radio wave emissions, this will be their best opportunity to gather data in the visible spectrum, which could bring new insights into its behavior.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics, solar system
  • John C

    35 hours on the road round trip to and from Paducah, KY to see it.

    175 mile stop and go traffic jam headed back from Paducah afterward.

    And definitely worth it.

  • InsaniD

    I was part of the project, but as you will notice, the image doesn’t change across part of KS and all of MO – we had cloud cover for 2 hours before and 2 hours after. And then it was lovely.

  • Uncle Al

    The 2017 eclipse was hard by lunar apogee. Then 2045 eclipse will be hard by lunar perigee. That’s is where the tidal fun is!

  • OWilson

    Thanks for the images.

    Back in the day, there used to be a lot of fuss over “the diamond ring” effect and “Bailey’s Beads” that appeared briefly during the transit, and wowed the viewer.

    I didn’t hear them mentioned at all this time in the popular reports.

    The highly unlikely reality of our only moon being the same apparent size of our only sun, seen from the only planet with life, continues to amaze and give further proof that we are indeed “special”, and so is our place in the Universe!

  • Rixware

    I have a photo from Concordia, Missouri, where we wound up after chasing a small patch of blue sky for about three hours. I would be happy to have it added to this compilation.

    But the algorithm on this compilation doesn’t seem very good. The size of the moon stays constant, but Mercury seems to dance around into a wide variety of positions. This makes the flares look like they varied in direction much more than they actually did. (Variance in size and brightness would be due to different exposure settings, but the direction should remain constant.)

    Wouldn’t the presence of Mercury, along with the size of the moon, be the perfect two things to align in order to create the best possible montage? With this small number of images, a manual composite video wouldn’t actually be that difficult to create, and would probably result in a better finished product.


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