going deeper

Eclipse safety tips

By: Tom
Tom's picture

All things solar eclipse!

For some, it might as well be a national holiday! Millions of spectators are getting ready to view the upcoming eclipse on August 21st—some are even traveling hundreds of miles just to view this once in a life time event. Researchers predict that this solar eclipse will be the most posted about event in human history on social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  

A lot of us are planning to view the eclipse with friends and family—but solar experts say it’s important to make sure you protect your eyes when you do so. USA TODAY says that “Eclipse blindness” is a real thing—this is caused by looking directly at the sun without any protection. It doesn’t matter if you’re just looking at the sun for even a few seconds—by doing so, it can cause permanent damage, partial vision loss, or even complete blindness. So, what’s the best way to keep your eyes safe? Glad you asked. A lot of retail and chain stores are selling the special eclipse glasses which cost only a dollar or two. You can even get them online—but keep in mind that they might not make it on time, depending on which shipping option you choose.

Where to get the solar eclipse viewing glasses?

A number of retail chains are selling the glasses including 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Bi-Mart, Casey’s General Store, Circle K, Hobby Town, Kirklands, Kroger, London Drugs, Love’s Travel Stops, Lowes, Pilot/Flying J, REI, Toys ‘R Us, and Walmart.

What brands to look for?

Make sure you look for these specific brands that have been safety certified: American Paper Optics, APM Telescopes, Baader Planetarium, Celestron, DayStar, Explore Scientific, Lunt Solar Systems, Meade Instruments, Rainbow Symphony, Seymour Solar, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Watch out for the fakes!

A number of people have bought fake glasses without even knowing it. Buying the wrong viewing glasses could harm your eyes—that’s why it’s especially important to make sure you’re buying from a brand that is safety certified. Experts say that spotting the fake glasses is actually easier than most think. Officials say to look for an “ISO” (International Organization for Standardization) icon on the eclipse glasses you buy. You can also look for the ISO reference number to be sure you’re getting the right glasses—that number is 12312-2.

Here are the brands that the American Astronomical Society and NASA have certified as safe:

·         American Paper Optics

·         Baader Planetarium

·         Rainbow Symphony

·         Thousand Oaks Optical

·         TSE 17


If you like a good DIY project, get some card board and aluminum foil and make your own! You can see how to make a pair of your own special glasses here:


Ways to see the solar eclipse?

If you’re looking to take a road trip to be in the direct path, the closet place to go from the DMV is Columbia or Charleston, South Carolina—but even here at home we’ll have an opportunity to see a partial eclipse. Forecaster says the eclipse will begin in the Washington metro-area at 1:17 p.m., with a maximum solar effect at 2:42 p.m., and wrapping up at 4:01 p.m. During this time, the skies will darken, nocturnal animals will likely become active, and there’s a potential that temperatures could drop between ten and fifteen degrees. There’s also a pretty good chance that the street lights throughout your neighborhood will light up during the eclipse time as well due to the twilight-like effect. 

Enjoy the eclipse, protect your eyes, and have fun! 

-Tom Miner