Just a week ago, Facebook feeds were filled with panicky posts from people who'd waited too long to buy eclipse viewing glasses and were suddenly finding themselves on a quest to locate them.But now that the eclipse is over? Those same cheap viewing glasses that were once in high demand could end up in multiple places -- tucked in a desk drawer awaiting the next eclipse (years from now), in the bottom of a kids' toy box, or, heaven forbid, in the garbage. Though some news has circulated that the viewing glasses expire after three years, that's simply not true, says NASA.
If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard ... if the filters aren't scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that ... you should discard them if they are more than three years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015," NASA's website says.So sure, you can hold on to them for the next eclipse (pro tip: tuck them inside a hardcover book to keep them from getting scratched over the next seven years), or if you have hoarding tendencies, you can just keep them as keepsake memorabilia to always remember the incredible celestial event you just witnessed.
But here's the best idea of all: donate them to Astronomers Without Borders, who will then distribute them to children in South America and Asia in time for the eclipse crossing those continents in 2019! A mass collection program is still in the works, and details will be announced soon. But in the meantime, Astronomers Without Borders -- an organization whose mission is to bring astronomy education to developing countries -- just wants to get the word out for people to keep their glasses until further notice.
This is an opportunity for schools to have a first-hand science experience that they might not otherwise have,” Mike Simmons, the organization's president, told Gizmodo. “Many schools in developing countries don’t have resources for science education, and this is a rare opportunity that inspires students and teachers and shows them that science is something they can do."What better way to bookend the solar eclipse experience than by spreading the love and passing the opportunity for safe eclipse viewing to kids around the globe? Stay tuned, and we'll keep you posted as soon as Astronomers Without Borders publicizes their collection plan! What are you doing with your viewing glasses? Do you have other great uses for them? Tell us in the comments!