How to tell if your eclipse glasses are unsafe (and what to do about it)

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) responded yesterday (Aug. 1) to increasing reports of unsafe solar eclipse glasses and solar viewers being sold to consumers ahead of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. The society updated its solar-viewing guidelines, which identify alternative viewing methods, ways to test if the eclipse glasses you have are unsafe and which welding goggles are OK for solar viewing.

Some eclipse glasses producers have been printing fake labels claiming the products are ISO-certified, and even providing fake test results online for their glasses. Because of this, AAS released more-comprehensive rules for finding out if your eclipse glasses are safe.

For one, if the glasses are manufactured or sold by companies on AAS’s reputable vendors list, the organization has double-checked all paperwork to make sure the glasses are actually ISO-certified. [The Best ISO-Certified Gear to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse]

If you’re unsure of the glasses’ origin, or if their vendor is not on the list, there are still a few ways to tell if they might be unsafe. Safe eclipse glasses should be extremely dark, the AAS said: Viewers should not be able to see anything through them besides the sun itself, and the sun shouldn’t be too bright.

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“If you can see ordinary household lights through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, it’s no good,” AAS representatives wrote in their updated guide. “Safe solar filters produce a view of the sun that is comfortably bright (like the full moon), in focus and surrounded by black sky. If you glance at the sun through your solar filter and find it uncomfortably bright, out of focus and surrounded by a murky haze, it’s [the viewer is] no good.”

 

In that case, you should demand a refund or credit for the glasses and get a replacement from an approved…

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