Don’t have eclipse glasses yet? You might be out of luck

If you do not have safety glasses with which to view Monday’s total solar eclipse, you might be out of luck.

 

The last batch of glasses came in Monday night to the DuPont Planetarium at the University of South Carolina Aiken and went on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“By 1 p.m. they were all gone,” said program director Darlene Smalley, adding that the planetarium sold more than 20,000 pairs overall. “We could sell thousands more if we could get them. There were so many people who waited until the last minute.”

The American Astronomical Society’s Solar Eclipse Across America page has a link to reputable dealers of solar filters and viewers, including those who make the certified “eclipse glasses.” But it has added a note: “It may be too late to buy solar viewers in time for August 21st. Most vendors are sold out!”

Astronomers Without Borders had 100,000 to give out to schools and institutions in underserved areas, but all of those have been claimed, the group said on its Web site.

A listing incorrectly said the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library was supposed to get thousands, but the library never received any and it is “getting hundreds of calls” from people looking for glasses, said Marie McFadden, the administrative secretary for the library.

The astronomical society includes a list of national retailers that might be selling the approved glasses, but a check around its Augusta locations does not turn up any with glasses still in stock. Kroger stores, for instance, had glasses but they are all gone.

“I think all of the (stores) are sold out because I was calling around yesterday for customers,” Ruthie Lewis, an administrative assistant at a store in Augusta, said Monday.

Some of the glasses were spotted Sunday at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Aiken but they have since been sold and no more are expected, a woman at the store confirmed. Toys R Us in Augusta also has sold out.

A five-pack of the glasses that claimed to be safety-certified was listed for sale Tuesday afternoon on Amazon.com but was priced at $79.99 before shipping and handling charges. PBS NewsHour reported Monday that the retailer was recalling some of the eclipse glasses sold through its site after being unable to confirm they were made by a recommended manufacturer; the company would not list how many were in the recall or the vendors involved.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration warned not to view the sun or a partial eclipse without the appropriate filter. The astronomical society said it is safe to view the eclipse indirectly through a pinhole projector, a hole punched through an index card, for instance, that will project an image of the sun onto a surface such as a wall or the ground. It warns against trying to view the sun directly through the pinhole.

The eclipse will be near total in Augusta but will be total in a band to the East that passes through parts of South Carolina.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

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