2017 solar eclipse: How to tell if eclipse glasses are safe, where to buy them

Tuesday , August 15, 2017 - 12:59 PM

NADIA PFLAUM, Standard-Examiner Staff

Staring into the sun is bad — even during an eclipse.

However, the proper protective eyewear has become such a hot commodity ahead of the Aug. 21 celestial event that it’s a mad scramble to get ahold of reliable eclipse glasses.

Reports have recently warned of convincing fakes that don’t offer adequate protection. It used to be enough to look for the logo of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) indicating the glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 — but some companies tagged their products with that logo despite lacking true certification. 


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 For example, Ogden resident Katie Summer-Nelson received notice Aug. 12 from Amazon.com notifying her she was being refunded for her purchase of eclipse glasses she got from the online vendor. 

“Amazon has not received confirmation from the supplier of your order that they sourced the item from a recommended manufacturer,” the email says. “We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse.”

Summer-Nelson told the Standard-Examiner, “I do appreciate that Amazon notified me, especially since the glasses have the proper certification numbers and I thought they were safe.”

In Ogden, the view of the eclipse will fall short of “totality” by 6.9 percent, meaning that at no time will it be safe to view the eclipse without proper eyewear.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) made available its list of reputable manufacturers and vendors of eclipse-viewing products. The society cautions that its list isn’t comprehensive, but includes products the group has vetted so far.

Wondering what you should do if you’ve already purchased glasses and aren’t sure if they’re safe? Experts say if only very, very bright lights are visible through the lenses, it’s a sign your solar glasses offer adequate protection.

To tell if your glasses are legit, try looking through them at a bright-white LED flashlight, like one on a smartphone. According to the AAS, the light should be visible, but dim. If you can see ordinary lights through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, they’re not strong enough to shield your eyes from the sun’s rays.

Even if you’re using approved eclipse glasses, some precautions still need to be taken. Ron Vanderhule, president of the Ogden Astronomical Society, warned not to look through unfiltered binoculars or telescopes while wearing the glasses. “The concentrated heat will burn through the filter material,” he said.

Unfortunately, some online vendors on the AAS’ list are already sold out of eclipse glasses. 

However, Weber State University’s College of Sciences promises to have some glasses at its booth at this weekend’s Ogden Farmers Market, and Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City stocks them as well. 

Glasses and viewers given out by astronomical or science organizations, libraries and planetariums are likely from vetted, reputable vendors, the AAS said.

The AAS recommends eclipse glasses sold by the following retailers with locations in Weber and Davis counties:

Best Buy 

  • 1093 W. Riverdale Road, Ogden

7-Eleven

  • 803 24th Street, Ogden
  • 3405 Washington Boulevard, Ogden
  • 490 40th Street, Ogden
  • 4186 Harrison Boulevard, Ogden
  • 3195 S. Harrison Boulevard, Ogden

Walmart 

  • 1959 Wall Avenue, Ogden
  • 534 N. Harrisville Road, Harrisville

Smith’s Marketplace (Kroger)

  • 2434 North 400 East Street, North Ogden
  • 1485 Harrison Boulevard, Ogden
  • 4275 Harrison Boulevard, Ogden

Lowe's

  • 344 N Washington Boulevard, Ogden

Pilot/Flying J 

  • 1172 West 21st Street, Ogden
  • 1670 W. 12th Street, Ogden

Toys "R" Us 

  • 1780 Woodland Park Drive, Layton 

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