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Consumer Alert: Eclipse Safety -- Beware of Counterfeit Solar Shades

If you're planning to watch the eclipse, you need strong protection. The only way you're going to get it is by wearing certified solar shades.

Across the country, Americans are gearing up for next week's total solar eclipse.

Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of the excitement. They’re selling counterfeit solar shades and marketing them as safe.

If you're planning to watch the eclipse, you need strong protection. The only way you're going to get it is by wearing certified solar shades.

“It is such a spectacular event,” said Ian Dell'antonio, a professor of physics at Brown University, who’s flying west to watch the total solar eclipse.

His colleague, David Targan, director of the Ladd Observatory at Brown University, echoes his sentiments.

“I've seen two total solar eclipses and there's just nothing like it,” Targan said.

In Southern New England, we're expecting a partial eclipse with about 70 percent coverage, and that comes with risks.

“There are -- almost every time there's a solar eclipse -- there are incidents where people have burns in their retinas,” said Targan.

It is a two-and-a-half-hour event. The only safe time to look directly at the sun is during the short period of "totality,” which will not happen in our area.

If you're planning to watch, sunglasses won't cut it. You need solar shades.

“The key is to get a filter that blocks out so much of the sun's light that the sun looks essentially as bright as the moon,” said Dell'antonio.

Look for shades that have met the international safety standard. They're marked with the code "ISO 12312-2."

There are unsafe counterfeit shades on the market, and some even say they're ISO approved, so it's important to buy from someone you can trust.

You can find the full list of American Astronomical Society approved vendors here.

“They're out there, and that means you should actually test the glasses before you use them on the eclipse day,” said Dell'antonio.

Most of us don't have the equipment to test the glasses and prove they're safe.

A good rule of thumb: they're not safe if you can see any ordinary light source through them.

Aside from the approved vendors, you can find approved shades at many local libraries.

There will also be several observation sites set up across the region, including:

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