Solar eclipse glasses: Experts share what to look for and where to get them

The solar eclipse is set to take place on April 8, 2024.

Eager viewers only have a matter of days to prepare for the solar showdown. But, what exactly is this extraordinary cosmic event, and why do observers need special eclipse glasses to get a glimpse of it?

A rare total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. At that moment, the moon will appear to completely block the sun, leaving the sun’s outer ring completely visible to the naked eye. The sky will go dark, and all that will be left is a marvelous gauzy halo of faint light. New York City will be granted a partial eclipse — in which the sun, moon, and earth are not perfectly lined up, allowing some direct light to reach observers. A mesmerizing sight indeed, but one that could be exceptionally dangerous, if not prepared for with the right gear.

Due to the partial darkness, sky-viewers eyes may be tricked into staring directly into the sun for an extended period, which could lead to retinol damage and even blindness. The best way to avoid direct exposure to intense light is to purchase a pair of eclipse glasses or choose an alternative way of viewing. Don’t worry — you’ve got a host of glasses to choose from, including stylish tort frames, petite pairs for kids, and bulk packs if you’re planning to host a solar eclipse party.

The Post consulted Andrew Fraknoi, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of San Francisco, for all the answers to our questions about the eclipse and viewing it safely. Fraknoi also guided consumers looking to purchase safe, authenticated eclipse glasses.

Jump right to Fraknoi’s interview or read on to shop the Post Wanted picks for the best eyewear for eclipse viewing. We’ve rounded up a wide selection of glasses marked with the ISO 12312-2 international standard.

And while you’re getting ready for April 8, be sure to stock up on plenty of sunscreen and UPF-protective clothing, too. Stay safe and enjoy your watch party!

RELATED: Get your solar eclipse glasses now on sale on Amazon – before they sell out

  • Solar Eyeglasses Solar Eclipse Glasses

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    Since the solar eclipse is crossing the United States, we had to throw in a pair of American-themed filters into the mix. These glasses have been approved by experts, and offer scratch-proof lenses. And, what’s more American than a great deal? At just $2.99, these fun frames won’t make a dent in your pocket, or leave a dent in your retina.

  • Bookish Bunny 5 Pairs Solar Eclipse Viewers Plastic Glasses

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    Looking to have a watch party with the whole family? You’re going to need to find glasses that fit the little ones too. This five-pack offers three pairs of adult glasses and two pairs of child-sized frames. Reviewers mention they’re simple, sturdy, and fit well. That checks all the boxes for us.

  • MedOptics Solar Eclipse Glasses – 10 Pack –

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    The bright, bold, rainbow galaxy colorway on this 10-pack of eclipse glasses will surely catch some attention (but, not more than the actual eclipse). These lab-tested glasses meet stringent safety standards, and the kids won’t be disappointed with those unique designs. Hold on to them as souvenirs to reminisce about this once-in-a-lifetime event!

  • Medical king Solar Eclipse Glasses Plastic

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    If you’re planning to make a whole day out of this solar event, you’re going to want to invest in a pair of comfortable glasses. These frames feature crease lines on both sides, for a more flexible, customized fit. You can even wear them over your prescription glasses!

  • VisiSolar Solar Eclipse Glasses Made in USA

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    What’s better than solar glasses made in the United States? The VisiSolar glasses from Walmart have been approved by NASA, and have received excellent customer testimonials. “They worked phenomenally. We got to watch the eclipse and not even strain our eyes. Recommend 100%,” one satisfied shopper shared.

  • American PaperWear Solar Eclipse Glasses

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    American PaperWear is another brand trusted in the solar eyewear sphere for over 40 years. This brand is aware that glasses should provide the best experience possible for consumers, while also keeping in mind that it is developing a short-lived product. Each set of frames is constructed with a black polymer lens, which is the most cost-effective material, but also high-quality for clear viewing.

  • Medical king Solar Eclipse Glasses 2024 (20/50/100/1000 Pack)

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    If you’re planning to put on a solar eclipse party, you’ll need to stock up on eclipse glasses for all your stargazers. Buying in bulk can get expensive, so we searched far and wide for the best deal on the internet for high-quality glasses. Whether you’re looking for 50, 100, or 1000, Medical King has you covered. Each pack meets industry standards.

Expert Recommendations

We spoke with Andrew Fraknoi, a Professor of Astronomy at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute. His work has largely been dedicated to making the study of astronomy more accessible to the public.

Why do you need eclipse glasses?

Fraknoi stressed that proper precautions must be taken to avoid potential eye damage from viewing the eclipse. “Any time any part of the sun is showing, its light is so intense, it can damage your eyes,” he explained.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, damage can occur if you look directly at the sun while viewing the eclipse. If your lenses concentrate on the intense sun rays, it could lead to an immediate burn in the retina, essentially creating a hole in your vision. This could cause immediate damage or vision loss.

There are a couple of ways to view the eclipse safely, according to Franknoi. “You either need to use eclipse glasses or project an image.” Whichever approach you take, Fraknoi recommends following precise guidelines to ensure you keep your eyes safe.

How do you project an image of the sun?

Indirect sun viewing is one of the more popular methods of catching a glimpse of the eclipse, as it keeps your eyes away from the potentially damaging light.

“My favorite way to project an image of the partly eclipsed sun is to stand with your back to the sun, and hold a household colander over your shoulder,” shared Fraknoi. 

“Angle it so you see its shadow on the sidewalk or wall. In the shadow, each hole in the colander acts like a pinhole projector and makes a small but distinct image of the eclipsed sun.”

How can you tell if eclipse glasses are legitimate and safe?

It’s important to note that eclipse glasses are not ordinary sunglasses. Regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the eclipse, no matter the material or level of polarization.

Fraknoi recommended looking for glasses that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard for filters for direct viewing of the sun. These glasses are unique in that they meet the standards for the level of transmittance at the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths that reach our retinas.

When searching for the right pair of glasses, Fraknoi emphasized that consumers should keep their eyes on the fine print, often found in the product descriptions, on the products themselves, or on labels. His rule of thumb: “The glasses should say ‘conforms to ISO standard.'”

Where should you buy eclipse glasses?

There are numerous manufacturers of eclipse glasses and different merchants to purchase from. To filter out any counterfeit products, or those that do not meet ISO standards, Fraknoi has directed viewers to browse the list of certified vendors by the American Astronomical Society.

The American Astronomical Society has strongly recommended that consumers vet products carefully, ensuring that sellers are identified on the site. However, just because you don’t see a vendor listed on their page, does not mean the products are unsafe.

Shoppers should do their due diligence with the purchase of any product.

What else do you need to prepare for the eclipse?

Frankoi added that those interested in viewing the eclipse should consider preparing for a full day of intense sun exposure with some more gear. “Not only your eyes need protecting,” shared Frankoi. “But remember to bring water, sunscreen, hats, games for the kids, like you would for a picnic or day at the beach.”

More information about the 2024 solar eclipse

Where is the best place to view the solar eclipse?

According to NASA, the path of totality for this Eclipse runs from Mexico, through the United States, and into Canada. Many viewers outside of the path of totality, including those in all 48 contiguous states, will see a partial eclipse, where the Moon covers part of the Sun.

Refer to a complete map to see whether the path will cross your location.

What time will the solar eclipse occur?

The eclipse will enter the United States through Texas, with the partial phase beginning around 12:20 p.m. CT or 1:20 p.m. ET. Totality is set to commence around 1:40 p.m. CT or 2:40 p.m. ET. The eclipse is expected to last up to four minutes, according to NASA.

When is the next solar eclipse?

If you miss the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, you will have to be patient to catch sight of the next one. NASA reports that there are two to five eclipses of the sun every year, but each eclipse is only visible from a limited region of Earth. The next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the United States will occur on August 23, 2044.

Will you need glasses to view the eclipse from New York City?

Joe Patterson, Professor of Astronomy at Colombia has answered the burning question for the New Yorkers. “During the few minutes of totality, it gets dark, almost like night. No eclipse glasses needed then! But in New York City, we will get a 90% eclipse, and 10% of full sunlight is enough to blind you! The solar filters are like welder’s glass; they’ll protect you,” he shared.

Hunting for a headline-worthy haul? Keep shopping with Post Wanted.