Solar Eclipse Glasses: The Best of 2019
Solar eclipse glasses are designed to keep you safe, so the single most important thing to consider when buying yours is how good they are at protecting your sight during a totality. If you’re wondering where to buy eclipse glasses that are safe, look no further.
Below, we have reviewed only eclipse glasses that are certified by NASA and that are therefore guaranteed to work. For your safety, if you opt for something that is not on our list, make sure that the glasses of your choice are produced by an NASA-approved, ISO-certified manufacturer.
What Are Solar Eclipse Glasses?
Solar eclipse glasses are glasses designed to protect your eyes from powerful sunlight, particularly during a total solar eclipse. If made properly, they can block out 100% of UV and infrared light, as well as 99.99% of bright visible light. As such, they are much more powerful than sunglasses, which only filter out 60% of visible light and not much else. They are even stronger than welding goggles for eclipse, since only those goggles with an OSHA shade of 12 or higher are safe for viewing a totality.
Most eclipse glasses look just like good old-fashioned 3D eyewear. The pairs are usually made of a paperboard frame (sometimes, plastic) and two protective lenses (commonly obtained from black polymer). In addition, some people use black polymer material in the form of solar filter sheets to guard their eyes when viewing the eclipse with a telescope and binoculars. You can employ the same type of sheet to protect your point-and-click, as well as DSLR camera as you record the big event.
Why Do You Need Solar Eclipse Glasses?
It’s generally not considered safe to stare straight at the sun even when an eclipse is not taking place. It is particularly dangerous to do this without protective eyewear during a totality, however, for a number of reasons.
For one, during a total solar eclipse, the sky grows increasingly dark and, as a result, your pupils dilate to let in more light and help you see better. It’s technically safe to look at the sun during the maximum eclipse, when it is completely covered by the moon. However, the moon gives no warning as it begins to strafe off the sun’s disc. The sun, on the other hand, outputs an intense, bright light as soon as the moon moves out of the way, and this will most certainly take you by surprise.
Consider that as this happens, you’re staring directly at the sun with your pupils dilated due to the darkness around you. The sudden burst of light can literally burn your retina and because you have no nervous endings there, you won’t feel a thing until it is too late and your sight is permanently damaged. This is why eclipse glasses are absolutely essential for a safe experience.
Not All Eyewear Is Safe: Where to Buy Eclipse Glasses
Some eclipse glasses are actually fake and will not protect your eyes during a totality. To avoid such terrible risks, you should only consider those eclipse glasses that are ISO-certified and approved by NASA. You’ll find them at most vendors and especially on online stores such as Amazon.
To verify whether a pair of glasses is safe, look for the manufacturer’s name and refer to the list put together by NASA for this specific purpose. If the manufacturer is on the list, they are approved. They should also display an ISO number on the glasses themselves in order to demonstrate that the lenses are ISO-certified.
Some of the most notorious and reliable manufacturers include:
- American Paper Optics
- Baader Planetarium
- Rainbow Symphony
- Thousand Oaks Optical
- Solar Eclipse International
- Explore Scientific, and several others.
Where to Find Eclipse Glasses for Free
It’s possible to obtain a pair of solar eclipse glasses for free from your local library or school up to one year before a total solar eclipse. This is particularly the case if your region is in the path of totality, but remember that vendors run out of these glasses fast as the event approaches.
In 2017, libraries in states across the path of the eclipse purchased more than 2 million pairs of eclipse glasses to hand out to locals. According to Thousand Oaks Optical, they and other companies produce and sell around 100 million pairs before a total solar eclipse, a fraction of which are distributed for free in schools and libraries.
If you can’t obtain free eclipse glasses in due time and you don’t have enough funds to invest in a pair yourself, then you can still observe the eclipse using a DIY eclipse viewer. Several tutorials are available online, but if you opt for a DIY device, always make sure to follow instructions to the letter and test your eyewear before the event.
How to Protect Your Devices during the Eclipse
It’s not just your eyes that need protection during a total solar eclipse, but any type of camera you use to record the event, too. Otherwise, you risk ruining your equipment and potentially your sight.
To avoid this, all you need is an ISO-certified solar filter sheet that is big enough to customize to your camera lens. Once your filter arrives, measure the lens and cut the sheet with generous margins for taping. Make sure to properly secure the filter to your lens to avoid it falling during the eclipse. That’s it! The filter will do its work to protect your equipment and your eyes, while you will be able to see the sun in a beautiful, natural orange hue.
When Is the Next Total Solar Eclipse in the United States?
Following 2017, the next total solar eclipse to be observed in the United States will take place on April 8, 2024. Mexico, several states in the US, and Canada will all be in the path of totality, which will offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience for millions of people. It is expected that the weather will be cloudy, however, so the best spots to view the eclipse will be in Mexico and Texas.
To prepare for this event, it’s essential that you acquire protective eyewear and solar filters for your recording devices, binoculars, or telescope. It is true that 2024 is still quite a long way away at present, but eclipse glasses tend to run out fast around the eclipse itself. You don’t want to spend that morning wondering where to buy eclipse glasses or welding goggles for eclipse viewing, so make sure you plan ahead.
Before You Buy Solar Eclipse Glasses
200 (include ISO, set features, price and number of pairs per purchase)
Solar eclipse glasses are an essential part of safely viewing an eclipse, but there aren’t too many things to consider when you buy your pair. Important questions to ask yourself include:
- Are the eclipse glasses ISO-certified? Is the manufacturer approved by NASA? This are, in fact, the two most significant details to bear in mind when making a choice in terms of protective eyewear for the eclipse. You don’t want to risk permanent sight damage for your or your loved ones, so only take into account those glasses that are guaranteed to work.
- Do you need only glasses for the big event or will you view the eclipse through a telescope? Do you intend to take pictures or record the moon’s crossing over the sun? If so, would an eclipse viewing set be more advantageous for you? These kits commonly include everything you need to observe and record a total solar eclipse, from glasses to solar filters and instructions.
- How expensive are the eclipse glasses of your choice? How many pairs are included in a set? Which option you go for is also a matter of budget, so if you’re trying to spend less, consider affordable sets with upwards of 10 pieces (for friends and family).
All in all, so long as a pair of eclipse glasses is ISO-certified and approved by NASA, you should be able to enjoy the magical moments of the eclipse without concern for your safety. Other aspects pertaining to the purchase, including the customization of glasses or any additional equipment, is a matter of preference.