Skip to main content

Eclipse: Google needs your help to create celestial ‘Megamovie’

Eclipse Megamovie: Citizen science for the 2017 total solar eclipse
There appears to be much excitement about an imminent celestial event involving a large piece of rock temporarily blocking the light of a distant ball of fire.

Better known as a total solar eclipse, the wondrous spectacle will sweep across the U.S. from west to east on Monday, delighting millions of people who live along the path of totality or who’ve traveled there especially to witness it.

Google has teamed up with UC Berkeley to make a Megamovie of the eclipse using all of the photos it receives from anyone who wants to be a part of the project. So how about it?

While you’ll definitely want to spend some of the time marveling at the eclipse through your special safety specs, Google knows that a good number of you will also be keen to snap it with your smartphone or a more sophisticated camera.

So if you happen to grab a shot of the moon during that brief moment of totality (NASA says it’s going to last a maximum of 2 minutes and 43 seconds), then how about uploading it to Google’s servers so it can use the image to help build its Megamovie?

Why you should never miss a total solar eclipse (especially this year's)

Besides the Megamovie featuring “high definition, time-expanded video” of the eclipse, the images will also “help scientists to study the sun’s atmosphere for years to come,” Google said.

Its particularly interested in learning more about “the motions in the sun’s corona [the outermost atmosphere of the sun and] cyclical changes in the sun’s temperature.”

Megamovie app

If you fancy getting involved, head to the iTunes store or Google Play store now to download the free Megamovie Mobile app. If you’re using a DSLR to capture the eclipse, you can still get involved by signing up here.

The app explains how you can photograph the eclipse using an appropriate filter so that your camera’s sensor stays protected.

When you arrive at a spot to view the eclipse, the app will work out your location and automatically begin snapping away 15 seconds before the totality period starts, taking shots throughout the eclipse, including of the dramatic “diamond ring” effect.

The app also beeps to tell you to take off the filter during the totality period, and reminds you again to replace it as the sun begins to reappear.

When you’re back home, you can then upload the photos to Google’s servers so it can build the movie. At the same time, you’ll be giving scientists a bundle of new material for their solar research.

“It’s really an experiment in using crowd-sourcing to do solar science, which will hopefully pave the way for much future work,” solar physicist Juan Carlos Martínez Oliveros, who’s part of the Eclipse Megamovie team at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, told UC Berkeley News.

“The app is going to do everything for you, so you just need to enjoy the eclipse,” Oliveros said. If you’re at all unsure about what to do, the app offers a practice mode so you can try it out before the eclipse starts.

Monday’s highly anticipated celestial event begins in Oregon at 9:06 a.m. PT, moving east across 14 U.S. states before ending in South Carolina at 4:06 p.m. ET.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Play Jeopardy and many more games on your Google Assistant smart display
google assistant game night jeopardy smart displays news display

When there’s nothing on TV and you don’t feel like pulling out a board game, ask Google Assistant to play a game. The smart assistant has always been able to play games through its smart speakers, but smart displays like the Nest Hub Max can now play games that use visuals. It can still be used to play old favorites like Song Quiz and Are You Feeling Lucky, but there are brand-new games that are fun for the whole family.

The new games combine voice and touch controls, so make sure you sit close enough to tap the screen. One of the new games is called Guess the Drawing, and is a bit like Pictionary -- you have to guess what is being drawn on screen as fast as you can. New drawings are added every day, and the game can be played with solo or in Party Mode.

Read more
Google execs say we need a plan to stop A.I. algorithms from amplifying racism
Facial Recognition

Two Google executives said Friday that bias in artificial intelligence is hurting already marginalized communities in America, and that more needs to be done to ensure that this does not happen. X. Eyeé, outreach lead for responsible innovation at Google, and Angela Williams, policy manager at Google, spoke at (Not IRL) Pride Summit, an event organized by Lesbians Who Tech & Allies, the world’s largest technology-focused LGBTQ organization for women, non-binary and trans people around the world.

In separate talks, they addressed the ways in which machine learning technology can be used to harm the black community and other communities in America -- and more widely around the world.

Read more
The next Google Home needs more than just better audio quality to be successful
next google home needs more than just better audio

The original Google Home smart speaker was released in 2016. Other models have come along in that time, like the Home Mini and the Home Hub, and the hardware saw a rebranding over the last two years with the Nest name, but the Google home hasn’t seen an upgrade. Given all that, the Google Home seems a bit outdated, which is why several questions arose when the device became unavailable from the Google Store a few weeks ago. More than anything else, people asked: Is an upgrade on the way?
A successor on the horizon
According to reports, Google plans to launch a new Nest-branded smart speaker with the code name “Prince.” Just like the Google Home Mini became the Nest Mini, it is highly likely that the Google Home will become the Nest Home. And honestly, it’s about time. As noted, the original Google Home is long overdue for an updated model, but what those upgrades might entail is not yet clear.

Rumors from 9to5Google's source say the new Nest device is slated to be a rival to the Sonos One, a smart speaker with an emphasis on audio quality, although Google already has a smart speaker that focuses on audio quality with the Home Max.

Read more