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Astronomers Without Borders Giving Away Free Eclipse Glasses

(Image: © Bill Ingalls/NASA)

For the total solar eclipse on July 2, the nonprofit group Astronomers Without Borders is handing out free, recycled eclipse glasses to provide skywatchers a safe way to watch the moon cross in front of the sun. 

After the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, the organization began collecting "gently used" solar eclipse glasses from skywatchers across the United States to distribute them to schools, libraries, museums and other institutions in the path of the July 2 eclipse. 

As a result of that campaign, Astronomers Without Borders received about 5 million pairs of safe-to-reuse eclipse glasses. More than 40,000 of them have been sent to Chile and Argentina, which are in the path of totality, as well as Peru, where skywatchers can see a partial solar eclipse

Related: Is It Safe to Reuse Your Solar Eclipse Glasses?

To help Astronomers Without Borders with their eclipse glasses donation drive, volunteers from the nonprofit group North West Arkansas Space examined and packaged lightly used solar eclipse glasses for redistribution at the Explore Scientific warehouse in Arkansas. 

(Image credit: Astronomers Without Borders)

The remaining pairs of solar eclipse glasses will be distributed across Asia for the annular solar eclipse coming up there on Dec. 26, 2019. Astronomers Without Borders also plans to distribute more eclipse glasses in South America for the annular eclipse that will occur here on Dec. 14, 2020. 

Although eclipse glasses are relatively cheap, they can be difficult to come by if you don't buy them well in advance — and fraudulent eclipse glasses often appear on the market. To make sure that these used eclipse glasses are safe, Astronomers Without Borders verified that the donated glasses were ISO-certified and free of any scratches, holes or other damage.  

You should never look directly at the sun, but there are ways to safely observe an eclipse. See how to safely observe a solar eclipse with this Space.com infographic.

(Image credit: Karl Tate, Space.com Contributor)

If you're planning on viewing the solar eclipse from Chile, Argentine or Peru and still need to find some eclipse glasses, here's where all those donated pairs ended up: 

  • 30,000 pairs of eclipse glasses were sent to the Instituto Geofisico del Peru for distribution at 14 universities and planetariums in and around Lima, Peru.  
  • 2,500 glasses have gone to the Colca Planetarium in Arequipa, Peru.
  • 8,000 were sent to Argentina and distributed along the path of the eclipse.
  • 2,500 glasses reached the U.S. embassy in Chile and will be distributed at local schools.

When you're finished using your eclipse glasses on July 2, or if you have some extra pairs lying around, consider donating them to Astronomers Without Borders to help other eclipse-watchers keep their eyes safe during future solar eclipses. 

You can find out more about the campaign and how to find or donate used eclipse glasses at astronomerswithoutborders.org.

Editor's Note: If you snap an amazing picture of the July 2, 2019 total solar eclipse and would like to share it with Space.com's readers, send your photos, comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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