Safely viewing the solar eclipse


people wearing eclipse glasses

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will have a solar eclipse. The moon will pass between the sun and the earth, blocking it to some degree, depending on where you are.  In an approximately 70-mile wide path across Oregon, southern Idaho, and further southeast, the moon will completely block the sun for a maximum of 2 minutes 40 seconds, turning day into night.  The rest of the continental US will experience a partial eclipse.

From our vantage point here in Spokane, looking southeast and about halfway up the sky, the moon will block just over 90% of the sun at precisely 10:27:16 am PDT.  Our entire partial eclipse period will last from 9:13 to 11:46.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and not too much smoke from area wildfires will obscure our view!  At the peak of the eclipse in Spokane, only a sliver of the sun will be visible on the upper-left side.  However, viewing even that small crescent with unprotected eyes can still cause permanent damage to your vision, even on a cloudy or smoky day.

It's never safe to look directly at the sun, except during the brief phase of the total eclipse, which will NOT occur in any part of Washington state. The only safe way to look directly at the un-eclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters such as 'eclipse glasses.' 

Regular sunglasses, even your darkest pair, are not safe: they will transmit thousands of times too much sunlight, damaging your eyes. 

'Eclipse glasses' are certified by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and are compliant with the ISO-12312-2  international safety standard.

If you're looking to get your hands on a pair, not to worry! We already did the research for you. NASA has a complete list of reputable vendors on their website. We called around to stores in our area to find out which ones still have these glasses in stock as of Wednesday, August 9:

Best Buy Spokane: 9970 N Newport Hwy

Bi-Mart Deer Park: 412 S Main St

Bi-Mart Cheney: 2221 1st St

Fred Meyer Spokane Valley: 15609 E Sprague Ave

Fred Meyer Spokane: 400 S Thor St

If the stores run out before you are able to get there, you can also order a set of shades online from a number of retailers:

  • 123 Sales
  • 2017Solar.com
  • 3Dstereo.com
  • Educational Innovations
  • Electronic Analyst
  • Firefly Buys (FFB)
  • Fred Meyer
  • Freedom Hill
  • Mega-Fun Toys
  • Off the Wall Toys & Gifts
  • Run to Shop
  • Skyhawk Ventures
  • Solar Eclipse Spectacles (paper glasses only)
  • Soluna/GSM Sales
  • Squirrellynuts
  • ThinkGeek
  • Your 5 Star General Store

(story: Lexi Perry, Producer, KHQ.com; photo: KHQ.com)