Eclipse glasses in high demand

Eclipse glasses in high demand

You'll need special glasses to view Monday's eclipse, and it may take some work to find them.

It only required two minutes for the Champaign Public Library to give out its Tuesday allotment of at least 50 free sunglasses, and patrons are lining up even before the place opens, said library employee Eva Liu.

The library started with 3,000 glasses originally and is also distributing them to schools.

The Parkland Planetarium has had them but keeps running out and having to re-order, said Director Dave Leake.

At the Urbana Schnucks on Tuesday, Imani Weibel was in luck — she walked out with 10 free glasses. Her mother, Centennial teacher Sue Feldman, hopes to use them in her class.

Imani and her father, Champaign County Board Chair C. Pius Weibel, are heading south to view the totality near Carbondale.

At some Monday events, such as viewings outside the Urbana Free Library, Champaign Public Library and Kennekuk County Park near Danville, there will be a limited number of free glasses to be given out. STAR_Net has distributed more than 2 million safe eclipse glasses to 7,000 locations, including public library branches, but several libraries contacted said they may have only enough to hand out at public activities or distribute to schools.

The Aug. 21 event won't be a totality in the Champaign area, but 93 percent is pretty good.

But not for the naked eye, though.

Erik Johnson, treasurer of the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society, said the sun is always a challenge.

A partial eclipse has the same ability to permanently damage your retinas that the sun would have any other day, he said.

Experts suggest using pinhole projections, eclipse glasses, welder's glasses, filtered telescopes or binoculars.

Johnson's group "has fewer than 50 left and may sell the rest at our (next) club meeting," he said.

Johnson said he has seen them at local stores.

But at Best Buy, employee Pam Propst said: "We're getting a lot of calls. We just don't have any more."

At any rate, the buyer will have to beware.

University of Illinois administrator Robin Kaler said she had to return her 20 pairs of glasses from a local store because she found they weren't rated approved by the International Organization for Standardization, which tests eclipse-watching products to make sure they will adequately protect your eyes.

The American Astronomical Society has a lengthy list of reputable manufacturers and vendors on its website.

Running out of luck getting the glasses?

There are other ways to see the eclipse safely. You can project an image of the sun with a telescope or binoculars by placing an index card 6 to 8 inches beyond the eyepiece or build a pin-hole projector with a shoebox.

NASA has a webpage with details on these options, Johnson said.

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capt80 wrote on August 16, 2017 at 9:08 am

Seems like everyone is going to Carbondale. You don't have to be in Carbondale for a 100% view. Check out this map. You will observe 100% coverage from anywhere in the dark pink band. I'm heading south on NON Interstate highways to one of the smaller towns for my viewing. 

https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2017-august-21

787 wrote on August 16, 2017 at 9:08 am

It's a shame that all of these manufacturers had no idea as to how popular that this would be.

They could have easily produced millions more of the viewing glasses, and still sold all of them.

 

aantulov wrote on August 16, 2017 at 9:08 am

There was a cheap easy contraption to make that I remember we were taught in school to make to safely watch the elclipse in reflection.  Would appreciate the news gazette reprinting those instructions.  It may save many kids vision.