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The Complete Guide To Avoiding Scams And Buying the Right Solar Eclipse Glasses

Protect your eyes and your wallet.

People watch a solar eclipse, in Santiago de Chile, Chile, 14 December 2020. A solar eclipse, partia...
Elvis Gonzalez/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

On April 8, 2024, a 122-mile-wide stretch of the U.S. will fall into darkness during a total solar eclipse. If you are traveling to that stretch of totality, there’s one thing you should not forget to pack: Certified eclipse glasses.

Eclipse glasses will be essential to view the event, and getting the right kind is critical to protect your eyes during a glance at the total solar eclipse. According to the American Astronomical Society (AAS), it’s easy to get the right set — but sometimes just as easy to get duped.

Inverse compiled a shortlist of the AAS recommendations to review before you buy a pair, as there could be grave consequences if you don’t get the right ones.

A solar eclipse spectator on April 20, 2023.

VALENTINO DARIEL SOUSA/AFP/Getty Images

Tips on getting the correct solar eclipse glasses

1. Know what you can’t use

You cannot use sunglasses (even 5 stacked on top of one another), smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters to watch the total solar eclipse, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Do not buy from Temu, eBay, or Amazon, the AAS writes. In these digital marketplaces, designed to highlight cheaper offers, you could be accidentally driven to purchasing a less expensive, and fake, product. There are often dupes. Many hit the market when demand is high, like now.

2. Know what is acceptable

The eclipse glasses, handheld viewers, or adapted filters must say ISO 12312-2:2015 standard.

ISO is the French acronym for the International Organization for Standardization, a nongovernmental organization that sets standards for best practices in activities and manufacturing.

ISO awards the 12312-2 certification when eclipse glasses do a few things: They successfully block out harmful ultraviolet, visible, or infrared light from reaching our retinas. This is called transmittance, the ratio of light that makes it through a filter when compared to all the light that strikes us, called incidental light. But just as important, the glasses must do this uniformly. They’ve also got to be mounted on material with good surface quality.

The 2015 at the end represents the year the standard was adopted.

Take the name of the product in your cart or your hands and cross-check with a meticulously-curated AAS list, so that you know the eclipse glasses come from a reputable manufacturer or one of their authorized dealers. The same goes for free viewers. If you have received eclipse glasses from an amateur astronomer or a museum, you can cross-check the manufacturer against the AAS list to confirm the eclipse glasses are legit.

“Unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven't been properly tested. This means that just seeing the ISO logo or a label claiming ISO 12312-2 compliance isn't good enough,” according to the AAS.

If the vendor claims to be new and wasn’t a tried-and-true supplier during the recent solar eclipses in North America, don’t buy. “Any company worthy of your business should have established itself well before last October's annular solar eclipse across the Americas,” wrote AAS officials, “let alone well before this coming April's eclipse!”

If you’re going to bring a telescope, binoculars, or camera lens, check that you own the right solar filter. The piece must be designed to sit in the front. This ensures all the light that enters the telescope is safe for the eyes. Throw away or disregard any telescope solar filters that sit on the viewer, where the eye rests, according to the AAS, which calls these objects “dangerous.”

A student at Baghdad University uses a telescope to observe a partial solar eclipse in Iraq's capital on October 25, 2022.

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

3. Don’t Use An Old Pair

If you have some eclipse glasses lying around at home, and plan to reuse them this year, glance them over. If the eclipse glasses are scratched, toss them out, according to the AOA.

With a fresh and certified pair of eclipse glasses, you’ll be ready to enjoy a once-in-a-generation event. The next total solar eclipse won’t appear in North America until 2044.

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