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Give Your Leftover Eclipse Glasses a Second Life

Monday, September 11, 2017 - 08:40

This post is based on a press release from Astronomers Without Borders:

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is collecting eclipse-viewing glasses from across the US to send to schools in South America and Asia for use during solar eclipses that cross those continents in 2019.

As a total eclipse of the Sun swept across the continental US from coast to coast on 21 August for the first time in nearly a century, millions of eclipse glasses were used to safely witness this dramatic celestial event. Now AWB and its corporate partner, Explore Scientific, have launched a nationwide grassroots initiative to collect gently used eclipse glasses to give them a second life before they are unnecessarily recycled or reach landfills.

Through the enthusiastic support of local libraries, schools, museums, city halls, police stations, commercial businesses, and community organizations, collection centers are quickly popping up from coast to coast to ensure that as many glasses as possible are recycled. Just two weeks after the eclipse, more than 800 collection centers are gathering glasses, and Explore Scientific’s warehouse has received well over 150,000 pairs of used and leftover new glasses. That number is rising by leaps and bounds, with people providing schools in developing countries the wonderful opportunity to safely experience a solar eclipse.

Collection centers are encouraged to register online on the AWB website. You can drop your own leftover eclipse glasses at any nearby collection center. Alternatively, pack them carefully so that they won't get scratched, torn, or punctured, and ship them to this address:

AWB Eclipse Glasses Donation Program
Explore Scientific
1010 S. 48th St.
Springdale, AR 72762

AWB is also seeking sponsors to support processing, storage, and shipping of the more than 1 million glasses expected to be donated.

“The 2017 total solar eclipse was seen by more people than any other in history, mostly using safe viewing glasses for the partial phases," said Mike Simmons, President and Founder of AWB. "It’s a great opportunity, with the help of local organizations across the country, to collect, vet, and store as many glasses as we can for schools in developing countries that will experience eclipses in the future.”

The 21 August 2017 solar eclipse as seen from Madras, Oregon.
Photo by Rick Fienberg, courtesy TravelQuest International.

Every pair of glasses will be inspected to make sure they meet safety certifications and are not damaged or counterfeit.

AWB also has a post-eclipse educational program, sponsored by Google, open to all US schools, building on the inspiration of the cosmic spectacle. The Building on the Eclipse Education Program offers STEM education lessons and activities using sunlight.

The glasses collection campaign comes on the heels of a highly successfully eclipse glasses distribution program made possible in large part by the generous donations of glasses from AWB partners Google and Big Kid Science (50,000 glasses each), with additional contributions from Celestron and the American Astronomical Society (3,200 glasses each).

Richard Tresch Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
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