Eclipse mania is sweeping the nation – and with good reason. The first solar eclipse to hit the lower 48 states since 1979, with a large swath of totality, has generated plenty of excitement, and it has spawned a cottage industry.
It’s easy to order a t-shirt commemorating the day or book an eclipse travel package. And then there are the eclipse glasses; thanks to modern technology we’re supposed to be able to don these glasses and look directly at the eclipse. But the American Astronomical Society says, “Not so fast.” The eclipse glasses you ordered off the internet could be fake.
Glasses that are safe for directly viewing the sun must meet the International Organization for Standardization’s standard, and will indicate they are ISO 12312-2 compliant.But recently the American Astronomical Society issued a warning indicating such a label is no longer adequate to verify glasses’ safety, citing “alarming reports of potentially unsafe eclipse viewers flooding the market.”
Reportedly some manufacturers are fraudulently placing the ISO logo on the packaging and even manufacturing fake test results to prove the effectiveness of their product. Amazon is trying to weed out fake eclipse glasses manufacturers, but even they can’t guarantee that all of them are off the site, especially when the glasses ship from third-party sellers.
The AAS recommends a dozen manufacturers that the organization has vetted for the safety of their products. The list is available through the AAS website; the group notes that the glasses should only let the sun’s light and other bright likes like halogen bulbs through.
In the event that you can’t find the proper glasses, the AAS recommends the tried and true pinhole camera trick.
Make a pinhole camera with a few common items. NASA recommends cutting a square hole in the middle of a piece of white card stock, then taping a piece of aluminum foil over the hole. Poke a small hole in the foil with a pin or paperclip. Put a second piece of white card stock on the ground and hold the piece with the foil above it, allowing the sun to project through the hole onto the card on the ground. The farther away you hold the “camera,” the larger the image will be.
Be safe. Protect your eyesight, and don’t let a one-time event cause permanent damage.