Google's new project may not make you a star, but you can help make a movie about one.
Today, on August 21, the US will experience something it hasn't had happen in around 100 years. A total solar eclipse will cross the United States. This event doesn't happen again until 2024, so people are pretty hyped. And why wouldn't they? Eclipses have stopped a war, intrigued scientists and generally wowed humankind for thousands of years.
Not surprisingly, companies are getting in on the action. Volvo will chase the eclipse with its new 2018 XC60 crossover. Casey Jones Distillery in Kentucky is promoting itself as the "official" moonshine of the Great American Eclipse of 2017. And, as I mentioned, Google is producing a megamovie and you can help.
What's up with this megamovie?
Google and the University of Berkeley have teamed up for a massive undertaking called the Eclipse Megamovie Project. They are asking amateur scientists from all over the country to photograph images of the sun and its atmosphere during the eclipse. Then, the megamovie will be assembled by Google. "We'll use our technology to algorithmically align and process the images submitted by citizen scientists to create a continuous view of the eclipse: the Eclipse Megamovie," Calvin Johnson, program manager, wrote on Google's blog.
Not only will the images and movie be used within the scientific community, they will also be made available to the public, so amateur scientists, students and the generally curious can study them, as well.
How do I sign up?
If the Eclipse Megamovie Project inspired a big swell of geeky excitement in you (I feel you!), signing up is easy. All you need equipment-wise are a camera, telephoto lens and tripod.
If you've got that, head over to the Megamovie official site and sign in to your Google account. Then, click on the profile link and select your viewing location and the type of camera you'll be using.
If all you have is a phone, you can use that, too. Google will suggest some accessories to go with it for the best photos. Google also introduced the app Eclipse Megamovie Mobile to Androids and iOS. This free app will help you automatically take and upload photos of the eclipse for the megamovie.
Don't forget to join the UC Berkeley Eclipse Megamovie Google Group, too. It will keep you informed on the latest information. Plus, you may meet some cool people to join up with.
Is your hometown a viewing spot?
To make sure you'll be able to see the eclipse and participate in the project, you can use the Google Eclipse Simulator to see exactly what the eclipse will look like in your area and when it will happen. Simply type in your zip code or town and state into the search box. Then, tap the play button. A simulation of what the eclipse will look like in your area will play on the screen.
Editors' note: This article was published on June 29, 2017 and has since been updated.