DANGER! ECLIPSE GLASSES are not all the same: I am being dramatic, but it's warranted in this case. There's been a lot of confusion on eclipse glasses as well as how to safely view the upcoming August 21 solar eclipse, I will try to straighten it out, and talk about various safe options and procedures for enjoying the event.
FILTER REQUIRED: We won’t be in the total portion of the eclipse here in Texoma so there’s NO time during the event when you can safely look at it without some type of approved solar filter.
CHOICES: Selections for safe viewing range from very inexpensive eclipse glasses made of cardboard and special plastic film, to fancier solar viewers and glasses for a few bucks more, to a Shade 14 welder’s glass. The companies below are certified by NASA that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products, with their websites listed underneath each:
American Paper Optics
Thousand Oaks Optical (very high end…expensive!)
Celestron, the well-known telescope company listed just above, is making a "cool" and safe version of the solar eclipse viewer that magnifies the event 2X. The filter in this device is made by NASA-approved American Paper Optics. The design makes the sun/eclipse image larger and therefore easier to spot details, and to view sunsets, sunspots, etc. in the future. The other companies listed may offer similar products, I invite you to shop among them for what best suits your needs and budget.
WELDER’S GLASS: As mentioned earlier, you can also use a Shade Number 14 welder's glass, which can be obtained from a welding supply outlet or online store, but this is generally more expensive than a pair of eclipse glasses. Do not assume a welding helmet you may already have has a dark enough glass in it; according to NASA many arc-welding helmets do not contain a required Shade 14 glass. If you are the least bit unsure what you have, do not use it!
QUALITY WARNING: I recommend ordering directly from the vendors' websites (listed above) or buying them at a trusted retail outlet. Some of the third-party "stores" on those huge online sites are very hard to check out, and imported versions of questionable quality have surfaced here and there. They may be safe...they may not. Is it worth risking your eyes to save a buck or two?
The cost difference between NASA certified ones and “iffy” versions is very low; the paper glasses work fine if you are on a budget, or if you want to go a little higher-end with plastic-framed eclipse glasses or the 2X viewer I described those are also easy to find, and don’t cost all that much. I’d recommend the better versions if you have an interest in viewing the sun from time to time in the future…sunsets, sunrises, sunspots, or what have you. They will last a lot longer and are sturdier too.
NASA DOs and DON’T s: Here they are, very important and verbatim from the NASA website:
>>> Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.
>>> Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
>>> Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
>>> Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
TEXOMA ECLIPSE FACTS: The total eclipse will not be visible in Texoma, but we will have a partial solar eclipse ranging from 78 percent coverage in southern and western Texoma such as at Van Alstyne and Gainesville to 84 percent along the Canadian River north of Ada and eastward to Clayton. The eclipse will begin at approximately 11:40 a.m. CDT with peak coverage time about 1:09 p.m. CDT on August 21, 2017. It will then take an equal amount of time…another 90 minutes…for the process to reverse and the eclipse to completely end. It's going to be cool…
When we get closer to the day of the event I will post a blog with specific percentages of coverage for various spots in Texoma – but in reality the partial eclipse will look pretty much the same throughout our region as long as it’s sunny. Let’s just hope that we luck out there.
FUTURE TEXOMA TOTAL ECLIPSE: Another Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024, WILL cover about the eastern half of Texoma within the total portion of the shadow. Something else for us science types to look forward to!
KXII-TV / News 12