BE CARE­FUL BUY­ING ECLIPSE GLASSES

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - — An­gela Fritz, Wash­ing­ton Post

If you’re go­ing to watch a so­lar eclipse, you need to wear spe­cial glasses. There’s not any­thing dif­fer­ent about the sun or its ra­di­a­tion dur­ing the eclipse — it’s just that our moms were right when they told us not to stare at the sun be­cause it will hurt your eyes.

If you don’t care about watch­ing the eclipse, you can go on with your life as you oth­er­wise would — no glasses needed. But if you’re one of the mil­lions of peo­ple who will be star­ing at the sky Aug. 21, you gotta get those shades. They fil­ter out nearly all of the in­com­ing light so you can ac­tu­ally see the moon cov­er­ing up the sun with­out dam­ag­ing your eyes.

Of course, de­mand breeds profit . . . breeds scams . . . breeds even more profits. And that’s what the so­lar eclipse is all about, right? Profits!

Sigh.

Ear­lier this week, the Amer­i­can As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety said it re­vised some of its eye­wear ad­vice “in re­sponse to alarm­ing re­ports of po­ten­tially un­safe eclipse view­ers flood­ing the mar­ket.”

This sounds omi­nous but it may not be as bad as it seems.

The main is­sue here is the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Since you’re go­ing to be us­ing them to stare at the sun, they need to fil­ter out more light than the stan­dard sun­glasses pinned to your vi­sor. The lenses should block out the ma­jor­ity of light to keep your eyes from be­ing dam­aged. The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process al­lows a man­u­fac­turer to in­clude a spe­cial la­bel, the ISO stamp, so you — the buyer — know it’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to pro­tect your eyes.

Three weeks away from the great­est so­lar eclipse of most of our life­times in the United States, you don’t have to look far on­line to find hun­dreds of glasses man­u­fac­tur­ers. In one of my re­cent searches, Ama­zon listed seven pages of re­sults. All of the prod­ucts I clicked on de­scribe them­selves as hav­ing met the stan­dard, but it would be dif­fi­cult for the av­er­age buyer to as­cer­tain whether the glasses have ac­tu­ally been ap­proved.

Given the mas­sive in­flux of ven­dors and man­u­fac­tur­ers, “it is no longer suf­fi­cient to look for the logo of the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Stan­dard­iza­tion (ISO),” the Amer­i­can As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety wrote.

In an ef­fort to re­duce your level of anx­i­ety and pre­vent thou­sands of per­fectly fine eclipse glasses from wind­ing up in the land­fill, there is a sim­ple way to test whether your so­lar eclipse glasses are safe:

When you look through them, you shouldn’t be able to see any­thing but the sun. Not the lights in your house, not head­lights on the street.

Noth­ing but the sun.

If you can see any­thing else through the film, toss the glasses and find a pair that works.

Pat Sut­phin, The Times-News

A to­tal eclipse will be vis­i­ble in part of Wy­oming on Aug. 21. The eclipse in Den­ver will be par­tial.

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