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Solar-Eclipse Glasses On Amazon May Not Meet NASA's Safety Requirements (qz.com) 131

For those planning to watch the solar eclipse on August 21st, you're going to want to make sure you have some specialized, ultra-dark glasses to see safely, especially if you're not in the "path of totality." If you're on the hunt for said glasses, please be on the lookout to make sure you buy glasses that meet NASA's safety standards. Quartz is reporting that there are many "fly-by-night manufacturers looking to turn a quick profit by selling subpar and potentially dangerous goods to unsuspecting Americans." From the report: The first stop for most seeking a pair of eclipse glasses is likely to be Amazon, where there are literally thousands of listings for the devices, ranging in materials from cardboard to bronze. I, too, went on Amazon to scout out a pair. I picked more or less at random: I chose a cheap pack of 10 cardboard glasses with five different designs, at least two of which were not garishly jingoistic. About a week after I bought them, I had a thought: Maybe I should double-check to make sure they met safety standards set by the scientific community. Next stop: NASA. NASA, of course, has a website dedicated to the 2017 eclipse, and on it, they have a section dedicated to eclipse-viewing safety. The site says that eclipse-viewing glasses must meet a few basic criteria: Have ISO 12312-2 certification (that is, having been certified as passing a particular set of tests set forth by the International Organization of Standardization); Have the manufacturer's name and address printed somewhere on the product; Not be older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses.
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Solar-Eclipse Glasses On Amazon May Not Meet NASA's Safety Requirements

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Works well.

  • Easy!

    Just use the Disk inside a regular 5 1/4 Floppy .

    If you don't have one handy, use a 8" one instead.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      The first solar eclipse I remember seeing, there were no solar eclipse glasses.
      The newspapers told us to soot a piece glass with a kerosene lamp.

      • Re:Floppy (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday July 28, 2017 @04:47AM (#54897171) Homepage

        Do not do either of these.

        A floppy disk has only marginal IR protection, and blurs the image heavily.

        Soot works if you deposit it at the right thickness, but it's easy to get the thickness wrong, and the slightest smudge can eliminate your protection; the coating is very fragile.

        A common third trick is looking through CDs. Which can work, if you pick the right one, but their transparency varies dramatically, so there's no guarantee that an arbitrary one will offer sufficient protection. If you're willing to risk your eyes with an improvised filter, a CD should be good if you can barely see an incandescent bulb through it.

        Photography filters and photographic film should never be used for looking at the sun. They don't block nearly enough IR.

        More info about various homemade and professional filters tested here [mreclipse.com].

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          Well, I have watched a moon eclipse with my regular sun glasses and my eyes feel just fine so, I assume I will be fine watching the sun eclipse with my regular sun glasses.

      • My first solar eclipse I watched in a pail of water. The reflection.

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday July 28, 2017 @02:30AM (#54896909) Homepage Journal

    look, you could buy a pre certified glass, put it on some cardboard and not meet the requirements. it might pass the safety requirements though as a device, if it was put into them, but the short blurb makes it like they wouldn't.

    besides than that what you will find is ISO 12312-2 "compliant".
    oh the days of just using smoked glass.

    the device might pass the safety checks - it just doesnt have the paperwork... that doesnt mean that it will make you blind.

    • And you're willing to bet your eyesight on a random eBay seller's word that it "would" pass the tests and is totally safe?

  • I consider my eyesight to be valuable, so the only direct viewing of the eclipse I'll be doing is through a piece of shade 14 welding glass.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope people are careful. It is very easy to damage one's eyes looking directly at the eclipse, or thru inferior filters. Check this link out for proper protection.

    https://www.space.com/36941-solar-eclipse-eye-protection-guide.html [space.com]

    Welding glass filters may work - but one needs to get the right shade. "Only goggles made for electric arc welding can be used to observe the sun, and they must have a shade scale number of 12 or higher. Shade 13 is ideal for solar viewing, but that shade is typically not sold in

    • Welding glass filters may work - but one needs to get the right shade. "Only goggles made for electric arc welding can be used to observe the sun, and they must have a shade scale number of 12 or higher. Shade 13 is ideal for solar viewing, but that shade is typically not sold in stores, Fienberg added."

      NASA recommends #14 welding glass [nasa.gov].

      • by cogeek ( 2425448 )
        I think the guys at space.com are probably a more reliable source than anyone at NASA. Not like NASA has any rocket scientists left to get this sort of information from. =-)
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        I just wear sunglasses under a #12 welding helmet.

    • I purchased the American Paper Optics glasses that seem to be recommended on nasa.com and space.com articles. They were $16 for a 10 pack.
  • by 4im ( 181450 ) on Friday July 28, 2017 @03:35AM (#54897023)

    You only have one set of eyes, don't be foolish about this.

    Chances are that non-certified stuff has deficiencies in UV/IR filtering, so while you may be able to look into the sun for much longer than usual, your eyes still may get an unhealthy dose of radiation. No protection at all will at least have you turn away in time (unless you're foolish enough to look at the sun through an unprotected telescope, binoculars or tele lens).

    As an amateur astronomer, I use Baader visual solar filter film, adapted to my different scopes and lenses. An A4 sheet (you could make a load of sunglasses from this) comes at 25EUR, which is very cheap compared to other options for observing the sun. Most of all, it's safe!

    • You only have one set of eyes, don't be foolish about this.

      Agreed. Although... we do have two... "do not look into laser with remaining eye" etc.

    • An A4 sheet (you could make a load of sunglasses from this) comes at 25EUR, which is very cheap compared to other options for observing the sun

      A few years ago, when we had a local partial eclipse, many of the shops around town were giving away free eclipse glasses. That's a lot cheaper than 25EUR.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      I second the Baader Solar Film. You can get sheets relatively inexpensively and as the OP said, an A4 sheet is enough to make several lens adapters as well as multiple pairs of sunglasses/viewers. It's used and has been used extensively in the amateur astronomy community for quite some time so is very well regarded and safe.

    • Doesn't like 90% less uv and ir radiation strike the earth during a full solar eclipse?

    • From TFA:

      To date five manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17

      I'm leading a party of 20 family and friends, and I bought mine from Rainbow Symphony a year ago. I thought of making my own with a sheet like yours, cardboard, and glue, but the pre-made glasses were about 75 cen

      • by rnturn ( 11092 )
        As a kid, I had a Gilbert reflector telescope with a solar viewing attachment that replaced the eyepiece, It was a conical assembly that had a thin sheet of white plastic over the end that the mirrors would projected the sun onto. You could safely see sunspots and, once, a partial eclipse. Sort of wish I still had it.
  • Anyone buying eye protection from random amazon sellers at this late stage doesn't really deserve to have eyes.

    Sadly all reliable sources of actual good gear (Thousand Oaks; if it's good quality solar film without their logo on it then it was bought from them and rebadged) have notices on their sites that essentially come down to "too late now".

    Good times ahead for the American eye-care industry.

    • Good times ahead for the American eye-care industry.

      I just bought a labrador farm.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In the parent comment, VendettaMF argues that people who do not adequately vet their suppliers, deserve to be blinded. Yikes.

      • It's the kids whose parents are careless that I fear for. Any adult who purchases safety gear for something this vital from sunny_eyeseller69 on amazon/eBay or from a roadside vendor kinda has it coming.

        I'd give the ones buying offline slightly more sympathy. The first group are proven to have Internet access.

    • Good times ahead for the American eye-care industry.

      Not really. If you have a damaged retina from excess sunlight, there's nothing that can be done, except waiting and hoping it recovers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://hilaroad.com/camp/proje... [hilaroad.com]

    Just like we did in grade school in February of 1979.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Garishly jingoistic? Oh my a God, they had American flag patterns on them? That must have been so hard to experience. Twerp.

  • No form of looking through something at the sun is safe, so always use projection.

    Rummage through your pile of Amazon boxes for a long skinny one. Cut a hole in the center of one end, and then tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole to cover it completely. Make the smallest possible pinhole in the foil, to project the sun onto the other end of the carton. Cut a sheet of white paper to fit flat inside the end where the image is projected.

    On eclipse day, all you need to do is go for beer and select a virg

    • by Anonymous Coward

      On eclipse day, all you need to do is go for beer and select a virgin for sacrifice.

      Can you just sacrifice her virginity or does it have to be the whole virgin?

    • Good point. I would also guess that metallic pinhole glasses would be relatively safe, as the hard barrier blocks all frequencies equally. (As others have pointed out, the main issue with cheap glasses is filtering visible light while letting IR/UV through.)
    • That's way overkill for a pinhole viewer. I just use my fingers.

  • by VendettaMF ( 629699 ) on Friday July 28, 2017 @06:35AM (#54897339) Homepage

    And for anyone using telescopes, binoculars or slr cameras...

    Set a loud damn alarm for ten seconds before the end of totality, and do not leave unfiltered devices on tripods pointed at the sun. At best you'll wreck your camera. At worst some idiot kids (or adult) will try to sneak a peek.

    I've seen the eyepiece cover of a Celestron kids telescope melt fully into the eyepiece itself on a scope left mounted after totality in China 2009.

    • I seriously doubt it, but if so it certainly had nothing to do with the eclipse. The moon would have protected the telescope from more extensive damage caused by the full output of the sun. Pointing a telescope at a non-eclipsed sun on any other day, is far more damaging than pointing it at an eclipsed sun where the moon is shielding the telescope from ~95% of the light.

    • by rnturn ( 11092 )
      I remember hearing those sort of warnings back in the days of curtain shutters in SLRs. Many, like the one in my FTb, were made out of rubberized fabric (lighter than metal and capable of faster shutter speeds) and pointing it at the sun for even brief periods without the lens cap on could burn nice little holes in the curtain.
  • Does this news make anyone else nervous?

    LK

  • I bought a pack of glasses off Amazon. Not the cheapest ones, I figured the plastic-framed ones would be less likely to be fakes than the cardboard ones, and of course I made sure it at least claims to be ISO 12312-2 tested and compliant. But it was still a somewhat shady dealer, and anyone can print the words "ISO 12312-2" on the packaging.

    I would think there would be a site to check that something claiming ISO certification actually was tested against it, but I've not been able to find one. Does anyone know of a way to confirm?

  • The SAFEST way to view the eclipse is INDIRECTLY, not looking directly at the sun.
    Instructions:
    https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/s... [nasa.gov]
    https://www.timeanddate.com/ec... [timeanddate.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Right. Cardboard box viewers make the image of the sun easier to see, because your eyes are in the dark box. But if you don't want to make a cardboard box viewer, you can do this: Cut a piece of aluminum foil (or thick paper), about 5 by 5 inches. Using a needle or a pin, punch a hole in the aluminum foil. Then grab the foil and a piece of white paper (maybe a sheet of computer paper), and go outside. Hold the foil a few inches over the white paper. The crescent will be projected onto the paper.

      If you want

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        Yep. It doesn't actually take much to do a "pinhole". One eclipse, I only noticed because a tree's shadow was casting hundreds of crescent images, where the sun filtered through the leaves. I looked at that, thought, "That's funny," and then realized there had to be an eclipse going on. I went inside, and one of our blinds was down, but the row of sunlight dots coming through the edge also projected crescents on the far wall.

        Another time, someone brought out a colander. It was built with a hundred circular

  • Boy, can you imagine the number of dead/damaged smartphones on the 22nd of August, after people point their phones at the sun? You know there will be those that do it. I've got an ISO 12312-2 filter for my dSLR all ready to go. It amazes me the stupidity of some "oh, I'll just wear dark glasses".
    • I'm thinking about getting one of these sheets of solar filter [amazon.com] for my dSLR and making a pipe fitting like the top rated review shows. Looks like it should hopefully be dark enough since they use it for certified viewers too.
      I might save a bit of this sheet for my smartphone camera, though - but there'd be no safe way to look at the screen to see if I aimed that camera correctly since the shades would be too dark to see the screen with.

  • I always recommend a pinhole camera. Zero cost from stuff you already have lying around. Zero chance of frying your eyes since you are looking at a screen with the sun at your back.

    Me? I'll flip a coin between my Coronado PST and a small travel scope with a Baader mylar filter. Cherry red or a faint bluish tinge...

    ...laura

  • Here is another way that not a lot of people seem to know of:
    1. Go buy a small convex round rear-view mirror at any auto parts or department store. (This is the kind of round mirrors that bulge out in the center, and ANY size will work--even the little 2-inch across ones)
    2. To view the sun, on a clear day stand near a building where the building's wall is in the shade of the roof overhang.
    3. When you hold the round mirror at a 45-degree angle, you will see a round spot of light projected onto the shaded
  • ...could someone please tell me at what point during a solar eclipse more light reaches the viewer and the light intensity increases compared to any other day when the sun is not eclipsed? Just checking because a lot of these comments lack a basic understanding of what's happening during a solar eclipse.

    • The problem arises just before and after totality, where the intensity of VISIBLE light is very low (so your eyeballs go wide open trying to collect more light), but the intensity of UV, X-Ray, and other heliospheric emissions is still about normal.

      It's a lot easier to cook your retinas when your lenses are wide open in the dark while you're staring into a huge UV/X-Ray generator.

  • Don't bother with the expensive solar filters, unless you already have them, from a reputable source.

    Use welding glasses, but they have to be #14, not anything less.

    The other way is to use projection. A small binocular is enough. Tie it to a tripod, and cover one side. Tilt it so it projects an image on a white piece of cardboard, then look at the cardboard with your back to the sun. This is safe. I did it for the Mercury transit last year.

  • ... with a large cardboard box, a piece of white paper taped on the inside, and a sheet of aluminum foil taped over a hole across from the paper with a tiny hole poked in it. Essentially, a pinhole camera. There's really no need to be looking directly at the sun. Through anything. Dear $DIETY, I can't think of any reason to trust something bought on Amazon to use for viewing the sun. I'm expecting, though, to hear about numerous people with destroyed retinas on the news the day after the eclipse.

  • Solar-Eclipse Glasses On Amazon Might Meet NASA's Safety Requirements
  • Just a related kvetch. The concept of laws that mandate standards you have to pay to see is something I've long found irritating. Why should there be a legally mandated "standard" that is kept a secret behind a pay wall?
    You can't find out what the testing requirements are for a filter to view the eclipse without paying to look at the standard...

    https://www.iso.org/standard/59289.html

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