The Eclipse Megamovie Project will add a new dimension to our studies of the Sun’s faint outer atmosphere – the corona. By stitching together thousands of images taken along the path of the 2017 total solar eclipse, we will have a unique treasure-trove of information on how the corona changes over time. Radio-wave studies have allowed us to closely observe very rapid variations of the corona, but now we expect to study such processes directly using visible light and thus enrich our knowledge of the Sun’s dynamic atmosphere considerably. The data gathered via the Eclipse Megamovie Project will be made available publicly and are expected to allow scientists to analyze the Sun’s corona for many years to come. Furthermore, we will have an opportunity to repeat this experiment when another total eclipse crosses the U.S. in 2024. This will show how the Sun changes over a few hours, but also how it’s different after a period of seven years.
Of particular interest to our 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.” 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 that surrounds the Moon, thus creating something that looks like an enormous diamond ring - similar to what someone might wear on their finger. We will be able to study this effect and how it changes with time, which may also allow us to measure the size of the Sun with better precision.
The primary goal of the Eclipse Megamovie Project is to produce a high definition, time-expanded video of the total solar eclipse that will cross North America from the northwest to the southeast on August 21, 2017. The Megamovie video will be pieced together from images collected by citizen scientists at various points along the eclipse path. This will provide continuous datasets that far exceed what any one person could capture from a single location.
Will you be under the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse? If so, we hope you can participate in the project! Sign in to enter your planned eclipse viewing location and your planned camera setup and more. Learn more at: https://eclipsemega.movie/