It’s almost time for the 2017 solar eclipse. It arrives on August 21, 2017. There’s a lot of hype, but it really is a big deal. The last time there was a solar eclipse in the United States was 1979.
We get how it is. A lot of people procrastinated when it comes to buying solar eclipse glasses, and now they’re worried it’s too late. Is it? Most retailers are sold out of the glasses, but there are some other options, and you might get lucky. (If you decide to check Craigslist or eBay instead – which might end up your only option – you have to be careful not to fall for a fake. You can read more about that here.)
What you absolutely should not consider doing is skimping on safety; NASA says you can suffer very serious eye damage if you look at the solar eclipse without solar eclipse glasses. That’s not a myth. It’s a known fact. And, no, regular sunglasses won’t work. They’re actually dangerous for viewing a solar eclipse, so don’t do it.
Many people are wondering whether you can get solar eclipse glasses at Toys ‘R’ Us, Walgreens, and Costco. The answer is yes in some of those cases as long as they aren’t sold out (which will be a big problem, because, in many cases, they are). You can see a detailed breakdown below.
You might luck out (some have), but most retailers are now sold out of solar eclipse glasses. That leaves eBay, Craiglist, DIY projects, and you can always try libraries, universities, museums and other non-profits that have bought of solar eclipse glasses for public use and events. (If you decide to check Craigslist or eBay instead – which might end up your only option – you have to be careful not to fall for a fake. You can read more about that here.)
Toys ‘R’ Us was a great choice initially because it is on the NASA approved list of retailers selling solar eclipse glasses. Costco and Walgreens are not on the American Astronomical Society’s list of retailers, which NASA directs people to check out. It’s a good idea if you do buy glasses on eBay to make sure they came from one of the AAS’ vendors.
Explains NASA of the AAS list: “Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.” That’s linked above.
The American Astronomical Society does say on its website that most of the retailers on its list are sold out. Get ready for some bad news. It says that Toys ‘R’ Us is one of those (we will explore that further down.)
Other retailers listed on the American Astronomical Society’s list of approved retailers are Love’s Travel Stops, 7-Eleven, Bi-Mart, Casey’s General Store, Hobby Town, Kirklands, London Drugs [sold out], Lowe’s, Maverik, McDonald’s (Oregon only), Pilot/Flying J, and Walmart.
It’s a good idea to use an approved retailer or vendor because there have been problems with unsafe glasses on the market, and you shouldn’t put your eyes at risk. The page also has a list of other online vendors you could try, but at this point getting the glasses shipped to you in time can be tricky and some websites offering online shipping say on their websites the product is now out of stock anyway.
There’s another alternative, though: If you can’t find the glasses anywhere, there are many suggestions for making homemade solar eclipse viewers. Just make sure that you follow all of the safety precautions closely. If you can’t get glasses, the Society suggests trying its pinhole projection method instead. You also might be lucky enough to be able to go to a NASA viewing area to get free glasses at a local library. Some universities and schools bought glasses in bulk and are holding viewing parties. USA Today offers detailed instructions for making a solar eclipse viewing card at home. National Geographic has detailed instructions for how to make a homemade viewer.
Here’s what you need to know:
Toys ‘R’ Us
As noted, the AAS website says the retailer was selling solar eclipse glasses but is sold out of solar eclipse glasses. Although the glasses come up on Google as a cache promotion, when you go to the Toys ‘R’ Us website, they are not offered. Toys ‘R’ Us was selling solar eclipse binoculars, but they are out of stock online.
WZZM13 in Western Michigan reported that the Toys ‘R’ Us stores in that area were sold out but said you might still find them at some libraries and museums. That might also be true in your area. You might have to think creatively and look to institutions that snapped up the glasses to educate the public.
You should call your local Toys ‘R’ Us retailer to be sure.
Walgreens is not on the AAS list. The Daily Herald reported on shoppers in Illinois going to Walgreens to no avail, looking for the glasses. KMOV in St. Louis included Walgreens on a list of retailers sold out or not selling certified glasses.
Walgreens’ website doesn’t list the glasses. You should not mix up products Walgreens does sell, like “Solar Shield” sunglasses for certified solar eclipse glasses. You could seriously damage your eyes because regular sunglasses, even stronger ones, aren’t going to keep your eyes safe. That’s according to NASA.
Costco is not on the AAS list. Costco was selling a solar eclipse viewing kit, but it’s out of stock online. You could check with your local Costco to see if it still has some of the kits that you could buy in person.