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Google, UC Berkeley Team Up With Eclipse Photographers For 'Megamovie'

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – This Monday, the earth, the sun, the moon, and technology will come together like never before.

"Well, I'm uncomfortably excited. This is a hard deadline," said Google engineer David Konerding.

The University of California, Berkeley, working with Google, has amassed an army of a thousand volunteer citizen photographers to capture the historic solar eclipse.

Monday's total eclipse can only be viewed on a narrow band 70 miles across, stretching 3,000 miles from Oregon to South Carolina.

That army of photographers will be positioned on the path to snap high quality photos in the brief 2-minute window, and then upload the massive number of images to a Google server.

And that's where Konerding and Justin Koh come in. The two Google engineers are key members of the "Eclipse Megamovie" project.

They have spent the past year getting Google's algorithm and systems ready to sort, adjust, rotate, and align all the images, and then stitch them together into a movie of the eclipse.

Koh has been doing test runs, knowing the pressure is on.

"I'm confident we're going to be able to pull this off. Our mockups look really promising. We've generated some amazing test data," he said.

The megamovie will give scientists a valuable look at the sun's corona, the spray of hot, ionized particles that can damage satellites and electrical grids on earth.

To get a high resolution movie of the corona, and to turn it around in the same day, is unprecedented.

"Google promises that they will have a 3-minute movie ready the day of the eclipse," said Professor Andrew Fraknoi of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. "It's really a cool project."

Konerding said, "This is an amazing opportunity to do both citizen science, as well as collect an amazing dataset that's going to help scientists understand the corona better."

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