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Get your ‘eclipse glasses’ from the Boston Public Library

Stop in to the library to get these sun-viewing goggles.
Stop in to the library to get these sun-viewing goggles.Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library relies on people coming into its branches to check out books to read, so it’s important it protect its patrons’ eyes.

That’s why the library this week announced that it’s giving away special glasses for viewing the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, ensuring the public is properly prepared for the celestial event.

In a tweet Thursday, library officials said residents can visit many of the branches scattered throughout the city to snag a pair of the so-called “eclipse glasses” that will allow them to safely stare toward the sky as the moon passes across the sun.


“Many BPL locations are handing out #solareclipse glasses,” said the library, which is hosting an eclipse viewing party. “Call your location or email ask@bpl.org w/ your location to see about availability.”

Supplies are limited, and glasses are available on a first-come, first-served basis, the library said. (For a complete list of eclipse-related events, visit the BPL’s website.)

Experts this week stressed the importance of having the correct eyewear for the rare occasion — especially if you are watching the eclipse from a location that’s not within the “path of totality,” the strip of communities where the sun will appear entirely obscured by the moon for more than two minutes.

Sadly, Massachusetts doesn’t fall within that path — it runs from Oregon to South Carolina — which means only a partial eclipse will be visible for those in Massachusetts.

Although the glare of the sun will seem like it’s less harsh during the partial eclipse, it’s still highly damaging to your eyes.

“Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality,” according to officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses.’ ”


Earlier this week, the American Astronomical Society warned that counterfeit glasses were being sold online, and urged the public to find a reputable vendor when purchasing the specs.

The proper lenses should meet what’s called “ISO 12312-2” (sometimes written as “ISO 12312-2:2015”) international safety standards, according to the group.

“Unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the Internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven’t been properly tested,” the society said. “This means that just seeing the ISO logo or a label claiming ISO 12312-2 certification isn’t good enough. You need to know that the product comes from a reputable manufacturer or one of their authorized dealers.”

And who could be more trustworthy than your local librarian?

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.