Are Your Solar Eclipse Glasses Safe? Here’s How to Know If They're Real and OK to Use

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is warning solar eclipse enthusiasts to be aware of counterfeit glasses.

<p>LeoPatrizi/Getty Images</p>

LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

A deluge of counterfeit and fake solar eclipse glasses have flooded the market, putting some unsuspecting space enthusiasts in danger just days ahead of the total solar eclipse.

The fake solar eclipse glasses, which have popped up across the United States, are no darker than ordinary sunglasses and unsafe for solar viewing, according to the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

“Solar filters are at least 1,000 times darker than even the darkest regular sunglasses,” Rick Fienberg, the project manager of the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force, said in a statement.

The warning comes just days before the total solar eclipse on April 8. The event, which has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, is expected to cross the country from Texas all the way to Maine and is an especially big deal since the next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the contiguous U.S. until 2044, according to NASA.

Travelers are making their way to destinations within the path of totality in droves so it’s imperative to know what makes solar eclipse glasses safe since viewing the phenomenon with the naked eye can cause severe injury (even causing permanent blindness in some cases). A safe solar eclipse viewer blocks “all but a minuscule fraction of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infrared (IR) light,” according to the AAS.

It’s not exactly easy to tell if the glasses are 100 percent safe right off the bat, according to the group, but thankfully it’s easier to tell if they’re not safe. In fact, there are three tests you can use starting with an indoor test in which you shouldn’t be able to see anything except maybe very bright lights, very faintly.

The same goes for the second test: trying them outside on a sunny day. Then, only something as bright as the sun’s reflection off a shiny surface should be visible — and faintly at that.

A final test is to glance at the sun. If you see a “sharp-edged, round disk” that is “comfortably bright,” the glasses are probably safe, the group noted. Still, stare at the solar eclipse sparingly.

“Staring at a partial solar eclipse for more than a few seconds at a time, even through perfectly safe solar viewers, isn’t much fun anyway,” Fienberg said.

And to help eclipse enthusiasts ensure their glasses are safe, the AAS has put together a list of vendors selling safe solar viewers.

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