Google ‘Eclipse Megamovie’: Tracks eclipse using amateur footage

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Suffering through some eclipse withdrawal? A crowdsourced “megamovie” of yesterday’s epic event could cure what ails you.

The Eclipse Megamovie Project released its first video yesterday (Aug. 21), showing gorgeous views of the Great American Solar Eclipse captured by about 1,500 volunteers along the nationwide “path of totality.”

The 2.5-minute video is more than just eye candy; it gives researchers a good, long look at the sun’s wispy outer atmosphere, or corona, which is visible from the ground only during total solar eclipses, project organizers said.

The eclipse photos were “algorithmically stitched together based on the time and location of the photo; gaps in the coverage are filled by the previous image,” Megamovie representatives said in a statement. “As more photos are uploaded and processed, these gaps will be filled in and the movie will get better and better, providing opportunities for the scientific community to study the sun for years to come.”

Eclipse Megamovie is a joint effort involving solar physicists at the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory and Google engineers (who came up with the photo-stitching algorithm). The team developed a free app that directed smartphones to take several photos just before, during and after totality during yesterday’s eclipse.

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