TEST Snap it! An Eclipse Photo Adventure


The Traveler needs your help! They have come to Earth to study an event we call a total solar eclipse. Can you help the Traveler snap photos of an eclipse?


About Eclipses

Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon gets between us and the Sun. During a solar eclipse, the Moon casts its shadow on part of Earth. If you're in the center of the shadow, you can see the Sun's upper atmosphere appear around the Moon!


A diagram shows the Moon between Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow on Earth. Near the Sun, a spacecraft is also seen.

Credit: NASA/Krystofer Kim

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America. It will pass over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Anyone along the eclipse’s path can see the total eclipse if the skies are clear. During the total eclipse, the sky will darken. It will look as if it were dawn or dusk. This total solar eclipse will be the last one that many people in the United States will be able to see for many years.

If you want to look at an eclipse, make sure you have eclipse or “solar viewing” glasses! These glasses are much darker than normal sunglasses. They block most of the Sun’s light. Looking directly at the Sun without eclipse glasses can damage your eyes. Remember to also use special filters over the lenses of cameras, telescopes, or binoculars when looking at the Sun. The only time during an eclipse when it’s safe to look at the Sun without eclipse glasses is during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright face. Ask an adult for help looking at the Sun.


Total solar eclipses happen somewhere around the world about once a year. But because the Moon casts a fairly small shadow, these eclipses can only be seen from a small area on Earth each time.

Other things can also pass between us and the Sun and block some of its light. When this happens, it is called a transit. Different things like planets, comets, spacecraft, and even birds can transit the Sun.


How to Play

The goal of this game is to snap photos of eclipses and objects that transit the Sun. Here’s how to play it:

  • Use your cursor to center on objects passing in front of the Sun.
  • Press the spacebar to take a picture.
  • To take a close-up picture, use the scroll wheel on your mouse or laptop trackpad, or press the W and S buttons on your keyboard to zoom in and out.
  • To change the camera filter and get a different view of the Sun, press the A and D keys.

A view of the game shows an object crossing in front of the Sun, surrounded by icons related to gameplay.

Credit: NASA

During the game, you might notice some objects are bigger than others. That’s because the objects are different distances from you. Objects that are far away, like Mercury, look smaller. Objects that are closer to Earth – or even in Earth’s atmosphere, like a plane – look bigger. Here are some examples from the real world:


A tiny dot on an orange semicircle shows Mercury as it crosses in front of the Sun.

Mercury can be seen crossing the face of the Sun at the bottom. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls


The International Space Station can be seen transiting an orange Sun in this combined photo.

The International Space Station crosses in front of the Sun. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky


A dark plane and its contrail can be seen crossing in front of the Sun in a black and white photo.

Things in Earth’s atmosphere, like this airplane, appear larger than objects farther away. Credit: CESAR/ESA


After the time is up, you’ll be able to review your photos. You’ll also find information about the objects you captured. Select your favorite snaps to make postcards. You can decorate and save them to share with your friends and family. Play again to discover rare objects and take more photos!


Links to Other Resources

Total Solar Eclipse Safety
Learn more about the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse
Learn more about solar eclipses
Learn more about the Sun


Credits

AJ Christensen, developer
Mara Johnson-Groh, writer
Krystofer Kim, designer
Brenda Lopez Silva, animator
Dwight Doyle, music composer
Joy Ng, producer

Special Thanks to:
Kyle Mansfield
Jessica Stoller-Conrad
Barb Mattson
Mike Tissenbaum
Scott Wiessinger
And our many playtesters

article last updated February 22, 2024
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