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The eclipse is coming! As people in many parts of the United States get ready for the Great American Eclipse of 2017, many of them are making plans to celebrate this rare event. While Northern Virginia and the DC areas are not in the path of totality, meaning we won’t get total darkness from the full solar eclipse, we still should get a pretty good show — and many local events are planned where you can join the community to experience the special event.
Whether you plan to join in on a big event or even travel to an area in the path of totality, or just watch from home, you should take care in how you observe the event. Eye experts caution that looking directly at the sun, even briefly and even during an eclipse, can be harmful. The best way to observe the event is using an eclipse viewer or using special eclipse viewing glasses. These glasses look like the ones you get for watching 3-D movies, but they’re NOT the same, and 3-D glasses are not a suitable replacement. And when buying specific solar eclipse glasses, you need to look for the right ones. Below we tell you how!
As “eclipse mania” takes over, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) cautions that some “eclipse glasses” being distributed are NOT the real deal and can be unsafe. In a detailed post, NASA outlines how the glasses must conform to ISO standard 12312-2 and list the name of a reputable manufacturer (such as American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), and TSE 17). NASA also provides tips for what glasses may not be suitable. If you’re attending an eclipse viewing event, some of them will have glasses available, but on a limited basis.
To ensure you have the right eclipse viewing glasses, you can buy them ahead of time — they’re inexpensive! Some choices are a 1o-pack from American Paper Optics, a 3-pack from the same company, and a 5-pack from Rainbow Symphony. Be sure to get the right glasses and share this post with friends and family so they, too, view the eclipse safely!