'Eclipse Megamovie' to help scientists understand sun's outer atmosphere

By: Action News Jax

Updated:

Scientists plan to stitch together thousands of images of the 2017 total solar eclipse to help them better understand the corona, the sun's outer atmosphere.

The Eclipse Megamovie Project aims to produce a high definition, time-expanded video of the total solar eclipse that will cross North America from the northwest to the southeast Aug. 21.

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The megamovie video will be pieced together from images collected by citizen scientists at various points along the eclipse path. 

Scientists hope stitching together the thousands of images will give them a host of information about how the corona changes over time. 

According to the Eclipse Megamovie 2017 website, radio-wave studies have allowed scientists to closely observe very rapid variations of the corona. The megamovie is expected to allow scientists to study such processes directly using visible light, which will considerably enrich knowledge of the sun’s dynamic atmosphere. 

The data gathered via the Eclipse Megamovie Project will be available to the public and is expected to allow scientists to analyze the sun’s corona for many years to come. 

Of interest to the team are the moments when the sun is almost totally eclipsed and again when it is just coming out of total eclipse, when observers can view something called “the diamond ring effect," the website says.

More light from the sun can be seen at this time through a single valley on one side of the moon. This produces a flash of light that joins the fainter light from the corona surrounding the moon, thus creating something that looks like an enormous diamond ring. Organizers hope they will be able to study this effect and how it changes with time, which may also allow them to measure the size of the sun with better precision.

Organizers are inviting anyone along the path of totality for the total solar eclipse to participate in the Eclipse Megamovie Project. They want as many photos of the eclipse as they can gather and they will have a special upload site for the public to submit their photos.

More than 1,000 photographers will be part of a special team taking photos from known locations and with verified equipment. 

Other volunteers will use their mobile devices and special eclipse photography apps that will work with the Megamovie project.

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