Last week, I wrote about how Google’s Making and Science initiative collaborated with scientists at UC Berkeley to crowdsource images of the eclipse from thousands of volunteers across the country on August 21.
Google plans to release the images as an open dataset, but it also developed algorithms to stitch the images together into an Eclipse Megamovie–showing a continuous view of the total eclipse as it crossed over the U.S. Early Monday evening, the team at Google released the initial results of its cross-country crowdsourced science experiment as “V0.1” of its Megamovie:
For the megamovie, Google and UC Berkeley recruited around 1,300 volunteers with DSLR cameras and telephoto lenses to capture the eclipse. These photographers had to live within, or be willing to travel to, the “path of totality”—which stretched across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina—and were instructed to send their images of the total eclipse to Google immediately after it passed over their area. The team at Google then used their algorithms to stitch together the images according to location and time stamp. They started working on it on Monday afternoon as the first images started to come in, adding to it as more volunteers were able to upload their photos. “As more images are uploaded and processed these will be filled in and the movie will get better and better,” the video description explains on YouTube.
— Laura Peticolas (@lauraurora) August 21, 2017
This is the first time the U.S. has seen a total eclipse since digital cameras have become ubiquitous—not to mention technology that would allow for a seamless patching together of those images for playback directly after the eclipse occurred. Google’s video offers a glimpse of what the total eclipse looked like inside the path of totality, and it did it at record speed, thanks to machine learning.
The resulting megamovie, which will be updated as the team works to include more images over the coming week, is also important to science: stitching together thousands of images taken along the path of totality gives a unique view of how the corona—or the sun’s tenuous atmosphere—changes over time. See more about the Eclipse Megamovie here.