The big day is finally here! Today is the day when parts of the U.S. will get the chance to see a total solar eclipse and the entire country will experience at least a partial eclipse!
But in order to truly appreciate this once-in-a-lifetime event, you must take precautions — if you don’t, there could be serious consequences, like impaired vision and possibly even blindness.
Ways to make sure your pair is the real deal
Ordinary sunglasses won’t cut it on eclipse day — they don’t have the right protective coating to shield your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.
With the recent revelation that Amazon may have sold some potentially unsafe glasses, here’s what you need to know…
If you want to be sure your glasses are the real deal, begin by checking the glasses for the name of the company that made them.
You’ll then want to cross-reference that name to make sure the manufacturer is on a list of trusted producers from the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
But you’re not done yet!
As an additional safeguard, you should visit the legitimate company’s website to compare the eclipse glasses they show on the website with the glasses you have.
This will help you spot a fake. As you can see below, a real pair from a company called American Paper Optics and a fake pair both look remarkably similar. Note that both pairs have the ISO 12312-2 and other related markings to give the fake an air of legitimacy.
Another good way to check your glasses before eclipse time is to do a pre-test indoors.
To do this, you can go into a well-lit room of your home and put the glasses on. Look toward the lights that are turned on in the room. If the glasses are legit, the lights shouldn’t be visible at all. We should note this test is not foolproof, but it is another element of doing your due diligence ahead of the eclipse.
Meanwhile, NASA also posted these guidelines for safe viewing:
- Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking at the sun. Do not remove it while looking at the sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device — even if you are wearing eclipse glasses.
- If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the Moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it gets dark. As soon as the sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.
- An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection
The AAS has a recommended guide on how to build a pinhole projector if glasses or other viewers aren’t for you. Places like local libraries and Warby Parker stores will also be handing out free solar eclipse glasses while supplies last.
Listen: Clark talks reliable places to buy solar eclipse glasses
Bottom line: Plan ahead, stay safe and enjoy this rare opportunity!