Solar eclipse requires special glasses. These are safest

WASHINGTON — Planning for the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse this month? Don’t get burned.

Make sure you have the right equipment to view and protect your eyes for this historic event taking place Aug. 21. Normal sunglasses and homemade devices are not safe enough, the American Astronomical Society warns.

The eclipse will be visible across the continental United States and is the first of its kind since 1979. For those in the path of totality — a thin path only 70 miles wide stretching from Oregon to South Carolina — the sun will be completely blocked by the moon for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. But for those not in the path of totality, the sun will only be partially blocked. But all sun-gazers should wear proper eye protection.

Looking directly at the eclipse without the proper solar filters is dangerous. Looking at the eclipse directly is only safe for the short time that the sun is completely blocked. Solar filters are necessary for the rest of the eclipse.

Even if a pair of shades seem really dark, ordinary sunglasses will transmit “thousands of times too much sunlight” than what is safe for people’s eyes, AAS said.

Other no-nos include homemade devices or looking at the eclipse through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical devices.

AAS has a list of verified brands selling eclipse-safe sunglasses, which NASA recommends, as well as event listings and educational resources.

Here’s a list of brands that the AAS says have been tested and meet international safety standards. Most single pairs are around $2-$3, and some companies are selling packs for eclipse-viewing parties.

It’s important to note that this list isn’t comprehensive, only tried and true. And be careful of phony eclipse glasses that are flooding the market.

If you know of a brand that should make the cut, the AAS encourages you to contact them with the information.


Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up