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Buying eclipse glasses? Know the warning signs of dangerous fakes

Many glasses sold online may be dangerous counterfeits
Philippines Solar Eclipse
Posted at 4:41 AM, Apr 01, 2024

The 2024 total solar eclipse is now just days away, Monday, April 8. That means you'll want to buy eclipse glasses if you are anywhere near the eclipse zone.

Even people not living in the "path of totality" may want a pair of glasses to be able to take a peek at the sun that day. You can see the path on NASA's eclipse website. But an astronomer and PBS TV host is warning about potentially dangerous counterfeits.

Dean Regas says fake eclipse glasses are easy to find online but could harm your eyes when the big day comes.

He also cautions that sunglasses won't protect you, no matter how dark they appear to be.

"If any part of the sun is shining, even 1% of the sun is shining, that's dangerous," he said. "It can really mess up your eyes."

So just as he did in 2017 — the last full eclipse in the continental US — he's urging people to purchase official eclipse glasses to protect their eyes. Eclipse glasses are inexpensive, typically $5 to $9 for a pair, so Regas says it makes sense to order a few of them.

You can find them online at sites like Amazon or Walmart, and at museums and nature centers.

The code to look for before ordering

Regas says before you place that order, make sure you are getting the real thing. He warns that cheap counterfeit glasses will give you a false sense of security.

Instead, he says to make sure your glasses say "ISO certified," and ideally have a shiny front side and a dark back side, which are the best quality.

"The newer ones are darker in back and will have a shiny front," he said.

In the meantime, in this age of TikTok and Instagram, Regas says if you are shooting video with your phone, don't point it at the sun for any length of time, as it could possibly damage the image sensor.

For video, he recommends a lens filter for the sun or simply holding a pair of eclipse glasses in front of it.

"You can take your glasses, put them in front of your lens, and take pictures that way," he said.

A few still photos of the sun on your phone, however, should not cause any damage.

Finally, if you find eclipse glasses sold out, like in the week before the 2017 eclipse, Regas says welder glass can also work if they are shade 14, the darkest used for heavy welding.

Hardware store welding goggles will not provide enough protection.

Regas is getting his telescopes ready for the big day when a full total eclipse will race across the country.

"Seeing an eclipse that is 100% is just so incredible," he said.

Just be careful so you don't waste your money.

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