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Astronomers Without Borders Recycling Eclipse Glasses

Between libraries and NASA, over 3.5 million eclipse glasses were handed out for free in the United States in the months leading up to the August 21 total eclipse. Ten times as many were sold by retailers like Safeway, Walmart, and Amazon. And all for one three-hour event.

Their use outside of an eclipse is limited. Wearing a pair, only the brightest lights can be seen at all, so they’re useless as sunglasses, and they aren’t strong or durable for welding glasses.

So rather than put them in a scrapbook or losing them in a box somewhere, send yours on to be useful to someone else.

Astronomers Without Borders is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the study of the universe to underserved communities around the world. They give telescopes to schools, support science programs in developing countries, and award grants to small schools so they can introduce their student bodies to the intersection between art and astronomy.

In the wake of the recent eclipse, they’re asking that you “don’t waste, donate” your eclipse glasses. With the help of corporate partners like Google and Celestron, they’re collecting used glasses to donate them to schools in Asia, which will see a total eclipse in January 2019 that crosses through central China, Mongolia, and Russia, and in South America, which will see totality in July 2019 on a path through Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

Do check to make certain that glasses you are donating are up to spec. With this recent eclipse crossing fourteen U.S. states, the market for eclipse glasses boomed and spawned a catastrophic proportion of counterfeiters. Substandard eclipse glasses may allow you to look at the sun without pain while still allowing enough light through to do irreversible damage to the center of vision.

Sign up for AWB’s newsletter to get astronomy news from around the world, and to learn where you can donate your glasses.

Photo: People view the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse in Bryant Park in Manhattan. Credit: James Kirkikis /