One of the most exciting and rare natural phenomena is occurring on August 21. For the first time since 1918, a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast across the continental United States. This epic event, in which the moon will cross over the entirety of the sun, has been called one of the most beautiful natural phenomena. As a result, it has gotten quite a bit of press, and massive crowds are to be the norm, particularly on the narrow swath of land that represents the moon’s shadow, called the path of totality. Due to the timing of the eclipse, only people at certain areas in the U.S will be able to view the complete obscuring of the sun, but many people elsewhere can see a partial eclipse. Either way, it is sure to be a memorable night, especially with the right preparation. Recent events have made it harder to prepare.
As many people’s parents have continually warned them, staring at the sun, even during a solar eclipse, is never a good idea. Direct eye contact with it can do substantial damage to one’s eyes and, in some cases, even cause blindness. In preparation for the eclipse, there’s been a massive spike in demand for solar protection glasses, which allow viewers to watch the eclipse in real time without fear of eye damage. However, this increase in demand has led to the purchase of more than a few pairs of faulty and fake eclipse glasses. Even the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has put out a PSA due to the influx of “bogus” glasses on the market. Fake spectacles don’t have the same level of UV and light tolerance that actual eclipse glasses do and, as a result, are quite dangerous. These fake spectacles can do far more damage than just to your wallet and go as far to cause lasting damage to your eyes even when you think they are safe.
Jackie Wattles of CNN put together an article about the importance of identifying fake glasses and how to test which ones could be potentially harmful. Ordinarily, glasses that were stamped with an ISO seal were deemed as safe and reliable but, many counterfeit manufacturers now have been replicating and printing the seal on their deceptive products. The length that these producers are going to fool consumers is troubling and, because of this, the AAS has released an approved list of vendors that you can reference before you make a purchase. According to Wattles’ article, most reputable eclipse viewing glasses are only about 2 to 3 dollars.
An eclipse of this magnitude is an event that you wouldn’t want to miss seeing as, on average, people are only able to view a total solar eclipse from where they live once every 375 years! Something so rare ought not to be missed, especially since 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path of totality, where they’ll be able to view an entirely covered sun. Regardless of your intentions to make a trip out of the event or just to go outside and peer upwards at the sky, protecting your eyes is crucial, particularly with the abundance of fake vendors around.
Read more about the August 21 Eclipse here.