Do Not Get Fleeced or Blinded by Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses

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Do Not Get Fleeced or Blinded by Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses


Millions of Americans have been getting prepared for Monday’s total solar eclipse, the first visible from the mainland US in over 30 years.  The first item on everyone’s list has been the heavily shaded glasses that allows a spectator to safely see the event with the naked eye.  But in a long tradition of opportunistic hucksterism, unscrupulous vendors have been hawking counterfeit glasses and have not only been fleecing customers, but potentially blinding them as well.

Even if we aren’t looking to look at the eclipse ourselves on Monday, we all know someone who is. So, let’s all spread the word to help prevent our fellow shadow hunters from getting bilked or blinded by another set of snake oil frauds.  The more people don’t know, the greater the danger is for some serious widespread damage to be done.


The American Astronomical Society has a list of companies that either make eclipse viewers that have been specifically reviewed by the AAS, and retailers who only sell genuine glasses. Some of the manufacturers sell components that might be marketed under other brands, and the AAS doesn’t claim the list is comprehensive, so there may be other genuine brands and sellers out there. But using a brand or vendor on the list should be a safe bet.

For last-second online shoppers, there’s also a list of Amazon sellers who will send you certified specs.

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The safety standards for eclipse viewing glasses are set by the International Organization for Standardization, or the ISO. All compliant glasses should have the ISO safety code “ISO 12312-2” printed somewhere on them.

Unfortunately, the AAS has received reports of fake glasses that also display the code, so it’s not quite enough to make sure you’re safe.


Legitimate eclipse-viewing lenses are designed to completely block out all but the very brightest light – that is, the sun, the brightest thing in the solar system. You can test this by putting on your eclipse glasses and staring at a bright light bulb or LED flashlight. If the glasses let through any light other than the sun’s – even a little bit – they may not be safe.

Finally, don’t think you can substitute proper eclipse shades with something from around the house. Even many welding helmets, designed to let workers look at incredibly bright welding arcs, won’t cut it.

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