Safety Specs


SUN SPOTTERS: Students in the U.S. watch the total eclipse that occurred on August 21, 2017.

Two years ago, people across the U.S. witnessed an extraordinary event—a total solar eclipse. The moon passed between Earth and the sun, briefly blocking the sun’s light. To safely view the phenomenon, millions of Americans bought special glasses. They filtered out the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. In July, many of these specs got a second life: helping people in South America view another total solar eclipse.

The group Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) asked people in the U.S. to donate their old eclipse glasses. After inspecting the donations, AWB shipped 40,000 undamaged pairs to schools and planetariums in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. That helped students there observe the stunning celestial phenomenon, says AWB president Mike Simmons. “An eclipse is like a natural laboratory coming to them,” he says.