Science and TechSpace


What kind of solar eclipse glasses do I need?

When buying solar eclipse glasses, there is one marking you should look for to ensure the glasses are safe.
Scott Roberts, founder and president of Explore Scientific, shows a pair Sun Catcher solar eclipse glasses .
Posted at 2:10 PM, Mar 13, 2024

Nearly 31 million Americans will be in the path of a total solar eclipse on April 8, with almost all of the rest of the country able to witness a partial solar eclipse. 

Except for several minutes during totality, wearing special glasses is necessary for viewing the eclipse. 

Staring at a solar eclipse not in totality could cause damage to the eye, NASA said. Regular sunglasses also are insufficient for looking at solar eclipses. 

NASA said solar eclipse glasses should be marked with ISO 12312-2 on them to confirm they are safe for usage during a solar eclipse. 

American Paper Optics CEO John Jerit said in a late 2023 interview with Scripps News the solar eclipse glasses his company makes are ISO 12312-2 certified. 

"It means that we've sent it to a lab, we had the filters checked, the construction checked on it and we have a certificate saying that the glasses are safe and have been manufactured safely," Jerit said. 

Eclipse chaser reveals where he'll view April 8 total solar eclipse
Stacks of Sun Catcher solar eclipse glasses.

Eclipse chaser reveals where he'll view April 8 total solar eclipse

A man who has traveled the world and developed solar eclipse maps shares tips to ensure the best viewing experience.


He said the back of his glasses have safety instructions on them for users. 

"The ISO standard deals with the amount of blockage that these filters do, and it's a black polymer with a silver coating on it," he said. "So they block harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays so that you can safely look at the sun."

While on a global scale, eclipses like next month's event are not rare, a solar eclipse is not a sight we get to see in our own backyard too often. Next month's eclipse is just the second total solar eclipse to be visible in the U.S. in the last 45 years. 

The next total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. after next month won't be until 2045. 

While it may seem like you're purchasing glasses for a one-time event, there is a decent chance you can use the glasses again. 

A partial solar eclipse will be visible again in 2026 for much of the northern U.S. There will also be solar eclipses visible in the U.S. in 2028 and 2029. 

While it used to be said that eclipse glasses had a three-year lifespan, NASA said solar glasses that are well preserved and without scratches can be reused indefinitely. 

For April's total solar eclipse, the sun will be completely covered by the moon. Residents along a 100-mile-wide swath from the Texas/Mexico border all the way up to Maine can see the total solar eclipse — weather pending, of course.