Solar specs: Where to get your eclipse glasses
Eclipse fever is currently covering the nation, as people young and old across the U.S. get ready to turn their eyes to the sky on Monday, Aug. 21 for the first total (or partial, in the case of Milwaukee) solar eclipse since 1979. However, even with a gigantic celestial body floating in front of it, it's still not a great idea to stare straight at the sun.
So, in order to make this incredible sight something you can actually look at, several outlets and locations are selling special eclipse glasses with dark, tinted lenses to protect your eyes from the sun's rays. Some might read that as simply sunglasses, but your average pair won't do your eyes all that much good while staring into the sun.
Instead, according to NASA, you'll want to find a pair of tinted lenses that feature an ISO-compliant logo, as well as the manufacturer's name and address on the product, to make sure it's not counterfeit.
And here are some of the major places you can hopefully snatch up a pair of specs in time for Monday's eclipse – though they're obviously hot commodities, so be sure to call your particular nearest location to make sure they're in stock.
According to NASA, the following retail outlets sell eclipse glasses and solar viewers made by approved companies:
- Best Buy
- Casey's General Store
- Circle K
- Hobby Town
- The Home Depot
- London Drugs
- Love's Travel Stops
- Pilot/Flying J
- Toys R Us
Once again, locations may be sold out, so be sure to call ahead to make sure they're still available in-store. NASA also warns to not purchase via their websites, as the outlets may use different un-approved suppliers for their online orders as opposed to their brick-and-mortar stores.
Thanks to the generosity of the Space Science Institute's National Center for Interactive Learning, STAR_Net Libraries, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, more than 2 million pairs of eclipse glasses were handed out across 4,800 libraries nationwide to give away for free. Unfortunately, the St. Francis Public Library – one of two Milwaukee libraries selected – is all out of its allotment.
You're not out of luck, though, as the Milwaukee Public Library's Central Library – the second Milwaukee library location – still has pairs in stock for the big day. It, along with several other MPL branches, will begin handing out their pairs – one per person – right when each branch opens on Monday. A few words of warning, though: Some branches open at noon – and the eclipse will begin at 11:54 a.m. – so you might miss the first few moments. Plus, stock is limited, so get their early.
Here are the branches with free eclipse glasses and their opening hours on Monday:
- Atkinson, 1960 W. Atkinson Ave., opens at noon
- Bay View, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., opens at 10 a.m.
- Center Street, 3969 N. 74th St., opens at 9 a.m.
- Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., opens at noon
- East, 2320 N. Cramer St., opens at 10 a.m.
- Forest Home, 1432 W. Forest Home Ave., opens at noon
- M.L. King, 310 W. Locust St., opens at noon
- Tippecanoe, 3912 S. Howell Ave., opens at noon
- Villard Square, 5190 N. 35th St., opens at 10 a.m.
- Washington Park, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd., opens at 10 a.m.
- Zablocki, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave., opens at 10 a.m.
For more information on eclipse-related library events, visit its website.
The Manfred Olson Planetarium
What better place to watch a solar eclipse than at a planetarium?
Starting at 11 a.m., the Manfred Olson Planetarium on UWM's campus will host a free NASA-official "Solar Eclipse Celebration 2017" watch party, where they will sell approved eclipse glasses for $1, as well as feature other safe displays – like telescope filters – for the event.
But, if you want to grab some official glasses AND be the smartest person at your own particular watch party, the planetarium is also hosting "The Sun's Disappearing Act," a show about the history, culture and science behind the interstellar sight. Tickets for the shows – taking place from 7 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 17-18 – are $5.
For more information, visit the event's website.
So get yourself some real eclipse glasses, watch Monday's astronomical wonder and leave with your vision intact to see the next one when it comes back around.
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