Here’s what to do—and more important, what not to—with your special solar eclipse glasses

Dare to be different. But do be careful with the special solar specs.
Dare to be different. But do be careful with the special solar specs.
Image: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
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Updated Aug. 21, 7:00 pm EST: The next total solar eclipse in the US will take place in just seven years. Its path will run through Texas, and across the Midwest and East Coast on April 8, 2024. Get ready. Plan an adventure; book a hotel; decide what to wear. But don’t save those special solar glasses you got for this year’s eclipse if the lenses are torn, wrinkled or scratched.

Today (Aug. 21) marked the long-awaited Great American Eclipse, in which the moon totally obscured the sun for part of the day in parts of the US, and darkened the heavens across the land. Many watched this odd moon rising while donning special solar glasses, certified to protect their eyes as they stared at the sun. According to NASA, glasses should be replaced immediately if the lenses are wrinkled or scratched. Warnings that glasses expire after three years are outdated, however, says the space agency, writing:

If the filters aren’t scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that you shouldn’t look through them for more than 3 minutes at a time and that you should discard them if they are more than 3 years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015.

“While NASA isn’t trying to be the eclipse safety glasses ‘police,’ it’s our duty to inform the public,” said Alex Young of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in an Aug. 2 statement on eclipse viewing safety.

Here are a few other things not to do with this year’s solar glasses, plus a bunch of fun stuff you can do with these special spectacles.


  1. Don’t save your specs for eclipse 2024 if the lenses are marred.
  2. Don’t litter! If tossing your special solar glasses, recycle or trash them.
  3. Though you doggo is adorable, don’t post a photo with your pet wearing these glasses on Instagram, as it’s already been done to death. According to Quartz reporter Molly Rubin (who was being only slightly hyperbolic), “I have already seen 10,000 dogs wearing eclipse glasses in my Instagram feeds.”
  4. Same goes for Twitter, Facebook, and the web generally. We get it. Dogs can wear goofy glasses, too.


  1. Be creative! If you got a 10- or 100-pack and now have a stack of specs, make a sci-fi statue out of them.
  2. Be cool. Wear them every day. This is a timeless (if vision-challenging) style.
  3. Save them for New Year’s Eve and repurpose them as 2018 glasses.
  4. Wear them sporadically in public and when people give you weird looks, say: “What, you guys didn’t know there’s another eclipse today???”
  5. Hang them up in your office and regale anyone who asks about them with a recounting of the great day that was Aug. 21, 2017. Don’t you feel nostalgic already?
  6. Mail all of them to Donald Trump, who briefly forgot to wear his.

This story has been updated to reflect NASA’s latest warnings about eclipse glasses expiration dates.