- Getty/Rob Stothard
The US will get to see a solar eclipse on August 21 when the moon crosses between the Earth and the sun.
Those in the path of totality will see a total eclipse, where the moon completely blocks out the light from the sun. The rest of the country will be able to see a partial eclipse.
But there have been concerns about scam glasses that might leave people without the proper protection.
Here’s a simple way to check whether your glasses are unsafe: A safe pair of glasses won’t allow any ordinary light to get through. So if you put on your pair of glasses inside, you really shouldn’t be able to see anything.
Here’s how to make sure your eyes will be protected with a solar filter
- Check to see if they came from a NASA-approved list. If you were given the glasses by a friend or family member and aren’t sure where they came from, you can check to see if the glasses comply with the ” ISO 12312-2″ safety standard. If so, the glasses will either have that or “ISO 12312-2:2015” written on them. But given the number of counterfeits out there, it’s possible that label won’t be accurate, according to the American Astronomy Society. You can’t test glasses to see if the solar filters are up to that standard, but you can test to see if the glasses are definitely unsafe. According to the AAS website, “you shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the sun itself or something comparably bright, such as the sun reflected in a mirror, a sunglint off shiny metal, the hot filament of an unfrosted incandescent light bulb, a bright halogen light bulb, a bright-white LED flashlight (including the one on your smartphone), or an arc-welder’s torch.” The site goes on to explain: “All such sources should appear quite dim through a solar viewer. If you can see lights of more ordinary brightness through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, and you’re not sure the product came from a reputable vendor, it’s no good.” If the person who gave you glasses is an amateur or professional astronomer, the AAS said, it’s likely they’re up to the proper standards. The same goes for pairs obtained from museums, libraries, and or astronomy clubs, the AAS said on its website.
If you determine your glasses aren’t safe (or you simply don’t have any), you can use alternatives to glasses that will help you see the eclipse without directly looking at the sun. Options include binoculars and paper, pinhole cameras, and even tree leaves.