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2017 Eclipse Blog / FAQ

What do I do with the glasses when the eclipse is over?

Great question!


The eclipse glasses contain a very special filter material that is ISO certified to be completely safe for direct solar viewing.  So, as long as that material remains undamaged, you could use the glasses to look safely at the Sun anytime you wanted to.  It’s not fantastically exciting to do that when there’s not an eclipse going on, though, unless:

(1) There are HUGE sunspots to be seen (this is pretty rare)

The sunspots have to be really big, because if they aren’t, then you won’t be able to see them on the surface of the Sun.

(2) There is a transit of Venus going on (and this won’t happen until 2117!)

If you didn’t see the transits of Venus on 2004 and 2012, sorry!

(3) There is a transit of Mercury going on, and you have REALLY good eyes (this does happen soon, on 11 Nov 2019)

Mercury does transit the Sun much more often than Venus, but it is very small against the Sun’s disk.  Most people cannot make it out just by looking with eclipse glasses.

You cannot see granulations on the Sun’s surface, or “solar flares” or prominences, with eclipse glasses.  To see those requires a filter that allows you to view the Sun in what’s called “Hydrogen-alpha” light – and those filters are expensive!

The eclipse glasses are really good for one thing – looking at the partial phases of a solar eclipse!  So we recommend taking good care of them while you’re using them for the 2017 eclipse, and then safely storing them for the next eclipse you happen to see!  They’ll be perfectly fine for at least a couple of years, so long as the filter material remains undamaged.  Though NOTE: the manufacturers do put a 3-year lifespan on the filters.  Maybe best NOT to plan to use them for 2024!)

They also make a GREAT souvenir!

So keep them safely in storage.  By doing this, you’ll be doing your part to help ensure that all these eclipse glasses don’t end up in landfills!  And that’s good for all of us!


P.S. Another great option has come up, and this is also highly recommended.  The group Astronomers Without Borders performs great outreach work around the world, and they have announced a program of accepting used eclipse glasses for donation.  These glasses will end up helping kids in less fortunate locations have a chance to view eclipses that visit their countries, and it is a great cause.

Please consider donating your used eclipse glasses to Astronomers Without Borders!

12 Responses to “What do I do with the glasses when the eclipse is over?”

  1. John Freeman says:

    Can a pair of welding shades work?

    Is there a standard for auto window shade film that could be applied to a sheet of plaxiglass to be held up?

    Can the glasses be used with a spotting scope or binoculars?

    Can the glasses be used to view the event and record it on a cell phone?

    Thank you for doing this!

    • Admin says:

      Hi John –

      Welding glass will work if it is at least #14, and NOT the kind that is “instant on”. That doesn’t darken fast enough.
      There is no auto window shade film that is approved for direct solar viewing.
      Filters for spotting scopes and binoculars are made, that fit over these lenses and are the only approved devices.
      I have never tried to use the filter material with a cell phone. The manufacturer advises against it.


  2. Terry says:

    What will folks see or experience if they are just outside the path of totality? For instance in a town like Yachats, OR, 5 miles south of the totality zone, or in Florence, OR, which is 30 miles south?

    • Admin says:

      Hi Terry –

      30 miles away, you will have about a 98% eclipse. It will get somewhat eerie, and you will know something weird is going on. But you cannot look at the Sun without eye protection! 5 miles outside might be a bit interesting – Baily’s Beads possibly. But there will be no corona (because you can’t see it even if there is any, through your required eye protection), the sky will not get nearly as dark, you will have to use eye protection the entire time – and the experience will still be a let-down compared to what folks just a bit north of Yachats will be seeing. And if you have a good view in the direction toward the path, you will likely see a huge dark area in the sky – where people are having the time of their lives! It is not the same, and you will not believe the people who were in the path and describe how great it was. Get to the path!

  3. In Helen, Georgia what time will I see the eclipse

  4. Anne says:

    Can you use the eclipse glasses with prescription glasses, either over or under them?

  5. Hailey says:

    Can I point my phone camera towards the sun and look on my screen

  6. Mary Peterman says:

    Where can I send my used and new glasses for Astronomers Without Borders?

Leave a comment to Mary Peterman

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