We’ve written a guide to watching the total solar eclipse next week, including how (and why) to avoid buying fake viewing glasses that are all over Amazon.
If you’re in the US, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming total solar eclipse next Monday: the first ever to take place exclusively in America (since it’s been a country, anyway). Not sure if you’ve seen a solar eclipse before? The answer is, probably not. Whilst lunar eclipses are visible over quite large areas of the earth, the last total solar eclipse in North America was in 1979.
So take your lunch break early - it’s really quite a sight to behold. Planets and stars become visible in the daytime, all shadows become eerily sharp, and twilight happens in the middle of the day. During the eclipse, for just a few minutes, the sun will become totally obscured by the moon, creating a halo of twisting, glowing streamers of light around the sun. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “a total eclipse of the sun belongs on everyone's bucket list.”
Where to watch the eclipse
From Oregon to South Carolina the eclipse will be fully visible - the ‘path of totality’ is between these areas. For most other locations in the US, the moon will cover around two-thirds of the sun.
When to watch the eclipse
The Great American Total Solar Eclipse will begin in Oregon between 10:15 and 10:27 am, and will finish its path in South Carolina between 2:36 and 2:49 pm. For full information on where and when to see the eclipse along its totality path, take a look at this guide to watching the 2017 Solar Eclipse.
How to watch the eclipse
During the few minutes of totality if you’re in the totality path, it’s safe to look at the solar eclipse with the naked eye. However, the partial eclipse - i.e. where the moon moves across the sun, is not an experience to be missed out on either. But it is one that should be treated with caution. You really can get blinded by watching a solar eclipse without proper protection, so you’re going to want to invest in some glasses to watch the solar eclipse.
Unfortunately, the internet and Amazon particularly is currently flooded with fake solar eclipse-viewing glasses that do NOT meet safety regulations/certifications and thus are no better than ordinary sunglasses. If you’re going to buy some eclipse-viewing sunglasses, it’s only worth it if you buy real ones. NASA has released a safety guide detailing trusted brands and what to look out for when you’re buying a pair of glasses: namely certification ISO 12312-2. Many of their trusted brands have online stores or direct Amazon listings, and tend to vary in retail price: from around $1.95 each to about $25 for a 5-pack.
However, you can even get caught out when attempting to follow NASA’s advice. A journalist for Quartz wrote on his experience buying with the correct certification and from the trusted retailer, and ended up with a counterfeit anyway.
This happens because a) sellers lie about their certification and b) many unlicensed third parties are selling counterfeit products on official brand pages, because Amazon haven’t totally rolled out their Brand Gating scheme yet. This means that in order to guarantee you are buying a genuine product, you have to check who the third-party seller is and ensure that it’s an official reseller of the NASA-trusted brand.
It goes to show that it’s often more difficult than we think to avoid fakes when shopping online. Some could actually be hurt by fake products purchased, particularly where solar eclipse glasses are concerned - but even those unharmed could be duped by a low-quality counterfeit which affects their perception of the genuine brand for life.
If you’re a brand worried about fakes of your product on Amazon, have a look at our eBook which provides advice on taking down counterfeits from the site: