The Great American Total Solar Eclipse
The “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” taking place on Monday, August 21, will be a treat for all of North America. During a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and earth blocking all, or part, of the sun for up to 3 hours (depending on your location). Viewers in the eclipse’s path of totality, will be able to see the sun’s tenuous atmosphere, or corona.
While this is an exciting time to view a fairly rare event, it’s important to ensure you and your family are equipped with the right safety equipment to stare at the sun.
Solar Viewing Glasses
Solar viewing glasses make it possible to look directly at the sun before and after eclipse totality. Even if you are observing the partial solar eclipse, you should still ensure you are equipped with appropriate eye wear.
Viewing the solar eclipse without the appropriate eye wear as the same effect as a magnifying glass on a leaf. Even brief glimpses at the sun without the appropriate eyewear can cause blurry vision or blindness. Anything you’re using to view the eclipse, including binoculars, telescopes, and cameras, should have a solar filter. For eyewear, regular sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection.
Solar Viewing Glasses Recall
The hype around the solar glasses has resulted in a number of vendors selling solar viewing glasses that do not pass safety standards. Amazon issued a notice last Saturday stating that they were emailing customers regarding a recall of solar eclipse glasses that did not comply with safety standards. According to NASA, solar gazers should only purchase glasses from reputable vendors, and should ensure that they carry the international safety standard number ISO 12312-2.
However, the market has been flooded with counterfeit glasses bearing the ISO mark (see picture above from the American Astronomical Society) – so the only way to ensure your eyes won’t get burned from staring at the sun, is by purchasing the glasses from an approved vendor.
Where to Purchase Solar Viewing Glasses
Over the last week a number of recalls for fake solar viewing glasses including glasses distributed by Vanderbilt University, Eye Doctor’s Offices, and Public Libraries. NASA has provided a list of verified solar vendors:
Solar Viewer Brands
- American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com / 3dglassesonline.com
- APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
- Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note 1]
- Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
- DayStar (Solar Glasses)
- Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
- Halo Solar Eclipse Spectacles
- Jaxy Optical Instrument Co., Ltd.* [see note 2]
- Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
- Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
- Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
- Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
- Solar Eclipse International / Cangnan County Qiwei Craft Co.*
- Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
- TSE 17 / 110th.de (Solar Filter Foil)*
Note 1: Baader Planetarium’s AstroSolar Safety Film and AstroSolar Photo Film, sold in the U.S. by Alpine Astronomical and Astro-Physics (see below), are not certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard and are not designed to work as eclipse shades or handheld solar filters. Baader’s AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film, on the other hand, does meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standard for filters for eyes-only direct viewing of the Sun.
Note 2: Jaxy doesn’t sell direct to customers; they manufacture for other companies. Their solar viewers could be described as “too safe” — they block a bit more visible light than the ISO 12312-2 standard allows, rendering a safe but rather dim view of the Sun. Technically, they aren’t compliant with ISO 12312-2, but because they are safe, and because several trustworthy vendors are selling eclipse glasses made by Jaxy, we include them here.
Click here for the full list, including retail chains and other vendors.