back to article Don't throw away those eclipse glasses! Send 'em to South America

On Monday, millions of Americans watched nature's ballet play out across the Sun (excluding those of us in San Francisco, where we were fogged in). Now an appeal is going out for used glasses to be donated to charity. Astronomers Without Borders is asking people who bought proper (not rip-off) eclipse viewers to send them in …

  1. Mr. Moose

    GLASSES ... GLASSES ... We Don't Need No Steenking __GLASSES__!

    Another way they can do this is via pinhole projection. Seems more educational too: Use either a pinhole at one end of a tube, and a mirror and screen or groundglass at the other; or use a "mirror pinhole" where a small clear area (e.g. 5mm) of a masked-off mirror reflects the image into a darkened room for group viewing. I built a pinhole telescope from a 9-foot-long mailing tube, a 2mm "pinhole" in aluminum flashing at one end; and a "dime-store" mirror at 45 deg, and a "groundglass" of one-side-matte drafting film at the other end. One can make real groundglass with ~500 grit abrasive. With projection telescopes you get a larger solar image. Mine was about 30mm dia. With mirror pinholes, the sky's the limit since you can utilize larger distances.

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: GLASSES ... GLASSES ... We Don't Need No Steenking __GLASSES__!

      That's what a number of us did this time around. I built mine out of a long shipping tube, and it worked quite well. Others used cereal boxes, and one person had a contraption made from cardboard and plywood.

      Even at 92% occlusion, the sun was still amazingly bright. Tell the children that cardboard and pins works wonders!

    2. harmjschoonhoven
      Thumb Up

      Re: GLASSES ... GLASSES ... We Don't Need No Steenking __GLASSES__!

      Even better than a pinhole is using (half a) binocular to project an image of the Sun. Binoculars with a small opening are ideal. You can use photographic neutral density filters in front to prevent overheating. Put a white screen at some distance behind the binocular, focus and hey presto a nice large image of the Sun. If you are lucky (or wait 5 years) you can see the sunspots. Historically this was the way they were first discovered around 1618 by Christoph Scheiner.

      Never look at the Sun through binoculars! Unless you like hospital food.

    3. samzeman

      Re: GLASSES ... GLASSES ... We Don't Need No Steenking __GLASSES__!

      Sure, that's safer... but so is watching it on a livestream. There's something unique about looking directly at the eclipse. It's not affected by the brown of cardboard, or dust on the surface you're projecting onto, or the mangled shape of the hole you hacked hurredly into the box.

      Maybe that's just my experience though.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    (excluding those of us in San Francisco, where we were fogged in)

    So being too far south of the eclipse path wasn't the issue?

    1. jake Silver badge

      No, it wasn't an issue.

      It wasn't a total eclipse here, true, but there was a fairly large chunk cut out of the sun. It was quite obvious in the Bay Area if you were above the fog. The sun looked to be roughly equivalent to a crescent moon, roughly 4-5 days from new. It was quite noticeably darker under the marine layer, most of the critters around here were in "WTF?!?!?" mode.

    2. asdf

      feel your pain slightly

      San Francisco foggy yeah sorry to hear but not that unusual right? What was weirder is have some cloud cover which mercifully broke several minutes before the apex here in Phoenix in the Sonoran desert. It mercifully cooled off slightly and then went straight back to 105F. 110 on the weekend too ugh.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FOR SALE: Eclipse Glasses, hardly even used

    Ask for Don at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC.

    PS: I'll be out at the optometrists between 2 and 3 Friday.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: FOR SALE: Eclipse Glasses, hardly even used

      Something something blind leading the blind...

    2. Mr. Moose

      Re: FOR SALE: Eclipse Glasses, hardly even used

      Don: Just hold one ear facing the sun, and the other ear facing a piece of paper. Take a selfie. See how bright you really are!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FOR SALE: Eclipse Glasses, hardly even used

        He'd make a good pinhole camera too.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: FOR SALE: Eclipse Glasses, hardly even used

          As in "What do you get when you cross a pinhead and an asshole"?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FOR SALE: Eclipse Glasses, hardly even used

      Great eclipse glass, terrific, the best eclipse glasses there ever. Trust me on that.

  4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Not if they're scratched!

    ISTR back in 1999 we were told not to reuse them in case of scratches - has the filter material improved sufficiently that this is no longer a risk?

  5. jake Silver badge

    "But let's face it, the chances of keeping a fairly fragile set of solar viewers intact and unlost for over six years, and then finding them again, might be too much"

    I still have mine from September 1969. Made myself from approved welding glass (nowadays, we'd call it "shade 14", I can't remember what we called it back then). I don't use it, though. Instead, I make a big song & dance about purchasing NASA approved eclipse viewing glasses in the hope that other people listen & don't try to bodge together a lifetime of regret. At a dollar a pop, they are hardly going to break the bank ... May as well ship off this year's, I'm going to buy a new set next time anyway. Thanks for the tip, ElReg.

  6. EddieD

    I kept mine

    I got given a set by the French Astronomical Society when I went to see the eclipse at Haguenau in 1999, and I still had them when I went to Turkey in 2006.

    Alas, they're long gone now.

  7. M7S

    What a nice idea

    That is all

  8. nickx89

    Good Call

    Good call by the astronomers. That's how recycle should be done.

  9. rdhood

    "But let's face it, the chances of keeping a fairly fragile set of solar viewers intact and unlost for over six years, and then finding them again, might be too much."

    LOL. These guys should see my closet.

  10. Milo Tsukroff

    October 14, 2023 not the 12th

    Solar Eclipse date is October 14, 2023, not October 12th. (Glasses will especially be needed as this will be an annular eclipse.)

  11. JLV

    Supply and demand

    darn things sold out in Vancouver. Managed to Craiglist 2 for an arm and a leg before leaving for Madras, OR.

    Madras got slightly less people than expected so they were going for $2 and ended up giving them away too.

    Big shout out to the lovely locals who were really friendly and almost no one tried to gouge the tourists, except for the jackass hawking camping spots (wo loos) for $100. Sheriff was handing out water, people sleeping in cars were left alone, a garage fixed my flat for free and would not accept a tip.

    2AM at a popup beergarten the DJ concluded his set with a "Fuck Trump" which, surprisingly for deep rural Oregon, no one really objected to ; - )

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Strange how times change. I stare at the Sun every day, without glasses, and have done so for some twenty-seven years, often at the breakfast table. My wife is always telling me I should grow up, so imagine my surprise and delight when all the so-called 'liberals' came around to my way of thinking the other day. My wife won't be having a dig now.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: What?

      The sun doesn't really shine out of there. It's just a figure of speech.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What?

        It's an English newspaper. Not much news though there are nice shots of ladies.

  13. adam 40 Silver badge

    Fakes? Blindingly Obvious ;^)

    Surely all those who bough fakes will be registered blind by now - therefore they will neither be able to read the appeal, not find their way to the collection centre or post office.

    So the supply of fakes will be mercifully limited.

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