Now that the eclipse is over, you probably have eclipse glasses that you don’t need. You might want to save at least one pair, since you can use them to view sunspots, to view the transit of Mercury* on November 11, 2019, or even to view the International Space Station when it crosses in front of the sun*. You can also save them, of course, for the next eclipse in 2024.
- Update: See the important note at the end of this post before attempting to view the transit of Mercury or the transit of the ISS.
However, you might want to get them into the hands of someone else who can use them to view an eclipse. One option is to send them to Astronomers without Borders, which is collecting used glasses, and will distribute them to persons in other parts of the world before upcoming eclipses. You can find instructions at their website.
However, you can just as easily cut out the middleman. Astronomers Without Borders will need to sort the glasses and distribute them. You can just as easily send them directly to someone who can use them. It will only cost you $1.15, which is the international postage rate for up to one ounce, which is enough for two sets of glasses and a letter explaining what they are.
The next eclipse will take place on February 15, 2018. This will be a partial eclipse that will be visible in Chile and Argentina. It will just barely be visible in Buenos Aires, but the sun will be about 40% covered in southern Chile and Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego.
Argentina and Chile will also have two total eclipses, in 2019 and 2020. Therefore, it makes sense to get students in southern Argentina and Chile excited about the partial eclipse in February. After they see the partial eclipse in 2018, they will have time to make plans to go see the total eclipses in 2019 or 2020, just like we did in 2017.
It’s not hard to do. All you need to do is find the name and address of a school in southern Argentina or Chile. Then, you send them one or two pairs of glasses, along with a letter explaining what the glasses are for.
Here’s a sample letter in Spanish. You can simply cut and paste this letter into your word processor. If you want, you can add your name, address, and e-mail. Or if you prefer, you can just send an anonymous gift.
Estimados [NAME OF SCHOOL]:
Encontré su nombre y dirección en Internet, y me gustaría presentarle este pequeño regalo. Éstos son lentes especiales que se pueden utilizar para ver con seguridad el sol durante un eclipse solar.
Hubo un eclipse solar total en los Estados Unidos el 21 de agosto de 2017, y vi esta espectacular vista en el estado de [STATE WHERE YOU SAW THE ECLIPSE]. No habrá otro eclipse solar en los Estados Unidos hasta 2024. Habrá eclipses en Argentina y Chile en 2018, 2019 y 2020. El proximo eclipse, un eclipse parcial, será el 15 de febrero de 2018 en el sur de Argentina y Chile. Por lo tanto, los estadounidenses han sido alentados a enviar sus gafas de eclipse a escuelas u organizaciones en Argentina o Chile. Estos lentes se volvieron difíciles de encontrar en los Estados Unidos antes del eclipse, y queremos asegurarnos de que tantas personas como sea posible tengan gafas para ver los próximos tres eclipses.
Hay más información sobre el eclipse y sobre estas gafas en el siguiente sitio de internet:
Esperamos que disfrute viendo los próximos eclipses tanto como disfrutamos del nuestro.
Here’s a translation in English:
Dear [NAME OF SCHOOL]
I found your name and address on the internet, and would like to present you with this small gift. These are special glasses that can be used to safely view the sun during a solar eclipse.
There was a total solar eclipse in the United States on August 21, 2017, and I viewed this spectacular sight in the State of [STATE WHERE YOU SAW THE ECLIPSE]. There will not be another solar eclipse in the United States until 2024. There will be eclipses in Argentina and Chile in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The next eclipse, a partial eclipse, will be on 15 February 2018 in the south of Argentina and Chile. Therefore, Americans have been encouraged to send their eclipse glasses to schools or organizations in Argentina or Chile. The glasses became hard to find in the United States before the eclipse, and we want to make sure as many people as possible have glasses to view the next three eclipses.
There is more information about the eclipse and about these glasses at the following website:
We hope you enjoy viewing the next eclipses as much as we enjoyed ours.
Or, if you prefer, you can write your own letter, either in English or Spanish. Even if your letter is in English, someone will be able to read it. The letter includes a link to a page on this site, and that page includes more information in Spanish, along with links to other sites with information about the upcoming eclipses.
It’s easy to find the name of a random school to send the glasses to. Just go to Google Maps, and zoom in on southern Argentina or Chile. Find the name of a town. Then, Google the name of that town along with the word “escuela” or “colegio.” Look through some of the results, and you’ll find the website of a school. Look for their address on their website. Put the glasses in an envelope with $1.15 postage, and put them in the mail.
A high school in Arkansas also needs a few samples of various brands of eclipse glasses. You can see more details at this Facebook post to see if they still need a sample of your brand.
Update: I’ve been informed that it’s not possible to see the transit of Mercury or the transit of the ISS with the naked eye. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to try, as long as you have your trusty eclipse glasses on. But whatever you do, don’t try to kludge something together to use binoculars or a telescope in conjunction with your glasses. If the glasses are at the end near your eyes, then there’s a real possibility that the magnified rays of the sun will burn a hole in the glasses, followed quickly by a hole burnt into your eyeball, which is not a good thing. Putting the glasses on the other end of the telescope or binoculars isn’t quite as dangerous, but it’s still a really bad idea.
The person who brought this to my attention was concerned that someone would attempt to do these things, that they would do them in an unsafe manner, and they would then sue me. You can, of course, sue anyone at any time for any reason. But the lawsuit would almost certainly be unsuccessful, as explained in this case.