How you can safely see the solar eclipse

How you can safely see the solar eclipse

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - You'll need to shield your eyes to see the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Stores like Lowes Home Improvement, Home Depot and Walmart are selling solar eclipse glasses for between $1 and $2. The safest solar eclipse glasses should have a rating of ISO-12312.

Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach also is selling the glasses, and said they've had trouble keeping them on the shelves. According to the planetarium, they've had to order boxes of the glasses almost each week. They called the interest to the eclipse "phenomenal."

In Wilmington, more than 95 percent of the eclipse will be visible. According to UNCW physics professor Brian Davis, the eclipse will be fully visible in South Carolina and extreme western parts of North Carolina.

"The only time you can look with your naked eye is when the sun is completely covered by the moon and that's not going to happen in Wilmington," he said. "In Wilmington, the eclipse is not going to be total. There will be part of the sun's surface exposed, and because part of the sun's surface is going to be exposed you can damage your eyes badly by looking at it. So, anybody in Wilmington looking at this eclipse needs to have protective eyewear."

That eyewear includes the glasses, or number 14 welders glass, according to Davis. He said welders glass gives a sharper view of the sun than the special eclipse glasses.

According to local eye doctor, Dr. Christopher Covington of Wilmington Eye, not taking preventative measures to protect your eyes during the solar eclipse can be detrimental.

"Watching a solar eclipse is a memorable experience, but looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. Staring at the sun for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can damage your retina permanently.  It can even cause blindness, called solar retinopathy," Covington said.

The following companies manufacture glasses certified by ISO and are NASA-approved:

  • American Paper Optics
  • Rainbow Symphony
  • Thousand Oaks Optical
  • TSE 17

NASA also wants you to follow four simple tips when viewing the eclipse.

  • Don't reuse old glasses. Unsafe after 3 years.
  • If lenses have scratches, don't use.
  • If lenses are wrinkled, not safe for viewing the eclipse.
  • U.S. manufacturers recommended.

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