As Americans rush to buy last-minute protective glasses and dodge cloud cover to view today’s solar eclipse, NASA is using the interest in the astronomical event to educate young people a bit more about what’s going on.

Rather than utilizing the traditional channels, though, the space agency will strive to reach younger viewers by running programming in partnership with major video game services. The National Esports Association (NEA), Microsoft, Epic Games, and Amazon’s Twitch are all working with the agency to teach people about safe ways to view the eclipse.

The video is part of an initiative called “Look Up!” and the stream will run from 2 p.m. ET to 4 p.m. ET on Monday, as gamer/creators play eclipse-themed games of Fortnite and Minecraft. A simultaneous view of the solar eclipse will run throughout the streaming event as well.

You can view the Twitch stream here.

The Minecraft mode will feature educational elements, encouraging players to solve eclipse-themed puzzles and questions. The goal of the mode is to escape the moon and get to earth before the eclipse occurs. The Fortnite mod will see players “venture through different areas that can be accessed by moving through different parts of the eclipse’s path of totality.”

“We are excited to collaborate with Twitch, NASA, Epic Games, and Minecraft to bring this one-of-a-kind event to the gaming community,” says Lori Bajorek, CEO of NEA in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for gamers to not only have fun but also learn about the eclipse and space exploration.”

Coverage of the 2024 eclipse is wall-to-wall of course. You haven’t been able to turn on a TV or open a website for the past week without being reminded of it. But NASA sees this as an educational opportunity as well as a breathtaking natural phenomenon. And by using venues like Twitch, Fortnite, and Minecraft, it also hopes to caution over-eager eclipse chasers to view the event safely, using specialized eclipse glasses or an indirect method, such as a pinhole projector.

It also hopes to warn people to definitely avoid using things like a camera, binoculars, or a telescope to view the event, as those can cause significant eye damage in the fraction of a second.

Watching an eclipse on Twitch might not be as fun as watching the event in person, but for many of the people who traveled across the country to be in the path of totality, it might end up being their best (or only) option. Cloud cover in Dallas as of early Monday afternoon was between 60% and 80%, and other parts of Texas were even more cloudy.

That’s unwelcome news for the thousands of people who flocked to the state. Some cities in the central part of Texas have pre-emptively declared a local state of disaster ahead of the eclipse. Dallas-adjacent Kaufman County, for instance, expects as many as 200,000 people to arrive, doubling the population.

Upstate New York, another popular destination for sun tourists, was also experiencing heavy cloud conditions.

Eclipse watchers so far have had a good sense of humor about the meteorological interference.

Cloud coverage will be less of an issue for people who paid to catch a ride on one of the specialty flights that will follow the path of totality. Delta Air Lines has two planned path-of-totality flights, one originating from Dallas, the other from Austin. Southwest Airlines also has a pair of flights from the same cities that are anticipated to be in the direct path of the eclipse.

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9 thoughts on “NASA lets young people experience the solar eclipse on Fortnite, Minecraft, and Twitch”
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