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Solar Eclipse Passes Through


Last updated 4/8/2024 at 12:44pm

For a few moments on April 8, millions across the country will put on those special eclipse glasses before looking up to catch the first total Solar eclipse we’ve had in years.

San Diego County was one of the best places in California to experience the eclipse with 55% of the sun obscured by the moon. Other places in the U.S. experienced a totality of as much as 99%. Another Solar eclipse won’t be visible from the contiguous U.S. until Aug. 23, 2044.

The eclipse first darkened Mexico as the moon crosses in front of the sun in perfect alignment with the Earth. Then, it crossed into the United States through Texas creating a path of darkness northeast to Maine. For other contiguous states not in the “path of totality,” like San Diego, a partial Solar eclipse was still visible.

A Solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, causing the moon’s shadow to fall on the Earth. There are total Solar eclipses, where the moon completely blocks out the sun, and annular Solar eclipses, when the moon is furthest from Earth and doesn’t fully block out the sun. The last one of those was in October.

North America won’t experience totality again until 2033, but only in Alaska. The next for the contiguous U.S. isn’t until 2044, when totality will be confined to Western Canada, Montana and North Dakota. There won’t be another U.S. eclipse, spanning coast to coast, until 2045.

After it’s all said and done, what should you do with those eclipse glasses?

You could stash them in a drawer as a reminder of April 8, 2024, or stash them for the next Solar eclipse. Or you could donate them for reuse, and prevent used eclipse glasses from ending up in landfills.

The international organization Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) has collected millions of glasses for distribution around the world. This allows people who live in the path of a future eclipse to safely view the celestial phenomena, without needing to buy a new pair for a single use, KTLA sister station KXAN in Austin, Texas reports.

AWB communications manager Andrew Fazekas said that the program began in 2017, ahead of that eclipse.

“It was so successful with hundreds of collection sites across the nation, with donations reaching in the millions of glasses,” Fazekas said.

“There are a lot of underserved communities that just don’t have access to this safe eyewear. So we’ve been providing hundreds of thousands of glasses across the world, for places like Chile, Argentina, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines.”

Some will have AWB recycling boxes to collect those glasses.

“[An] eclipse coming here in our town is rare, but it happens about every year and a half,” said Gilda at a city press conference on April 2. “There’s an eclipse somewhere, and not all the communities have the same resources that we have. So we’re going to share the resources that we have and make it a more sustainable experience.”

Fazekas said that the effort helps to “put a dent” in eclipse waste, but millions will still have to be thrown away.

“We probably can’t reach all of them… we are not expecting to collect all of them by any means, and many are going to be damaged,” he said.

“But I think we can reach numbers in the low millions at least, and prevent those from reaching landfills. Gently used glasses are going to be well worth saving, and giving a chance for other folks around the world to experience this is a wonderful thing.”

Warby Parker, in addition to handing out free eclipse glasses, will collect them afterward and donate them to AWB. You can bring your glasses to any Warby Parker location before the end of April.

There’s also no harm in hanging on to your glasses. The U.S. won’t see another total Solar eclipse until 2044, and, as long as they aren’t damaged, eclipse glasses never expire.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you can remove the lenses from the glasses and recycle the cardboard frame, if you prefer that option.

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