Make sure you are safe while watching the 2017 total solar eclipse in the United States. Image: TheUSBPort

Over the weekend, Amazon sent notices to customers who bought solar eclipse glasses and viewers from fraudulent manufacturers who didn’t meet safety standards. The online retail giant also offered refunds to those affected and apologized for the inconveniences.

The upcoming solar eclipse is a phenomenon of considerable importance, given that it will be the first event of its kind that can be seen across the entire continental United States in generations.

People of all ages need to take precautions to admire the total solar eclipse on August 21. There are several methods for safe viewing, including not looking at it directly, but for those who want to see it with their own eyes, the following recommendations will be of use.

How to know if your solar eclipse glasses are safe

Luckily for all of us astronomy enthusiasts, NASA has put out a checklist of safety indicators ahead of the 2017 solar eclipse. The administration suggests that any piece of eyewear that does not meet these international safety standards should be discarded or at least not used to see the eclipse.

NASA guidelines are quite commonsensical since the first thing they point out is that your glasses should not be used if they are damaged in any way that affects the filter. This includes scratches and peelings given that they remove portions of the protective solar filter that is needed in the first place.

The space agency also mandates that you not use your solar viewers through any other type of lens. This includes regular glasses, cameras, telescopes, and binoculars. The augmented refraction of these crystals concentrates sunlight and damages the filter, rendering it useless and harming your eyesight.

Last but not least, NASA makes a point of checking whether your glasses are ISO-12312-2 compliant since this is the updated version that you can use for as long as you wish. Other glasses that do not meet this standard will often recommend you not see the sun directly for longer than 3 minutes.

From which vendors can I get eyewear that keeps me safe?

The American Astronomical Society has also done its homework and gathered a list of reputable vendors from which people can buy ISO-compliant solar filters, viewers, glasses, and all kinds of eyewear.

They note that some locations of retail chains like Best Buy, Kirkland’s, Lowe’s, Walmart, Toys R Us, and 7-Eleven sell certified glasses for the solar eclipse. Among online vendors and other types of establishments, Amazon is not listed given that many of its glasses are unsafe.

Some brands you can look up for trustworthiness are Rainbow Symphony, Lunt Solar Systems, Explore Scientific, Celestron, DayStar, American Paper Optics, and Seymour Solar. More are listed on the AAS official site.

NASA, Google, and Astronomers Without Borders will be giving away more than 3.5 million safe solar glasses at officially designated viewing locations, public libraries, schools, and communities across the country. For more information on other types of solar filters, you can go to the dedicated website.

Source: NASA / AAS