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Eclipse glasses are getting hard to find in South Mississippi

Eclipse glasses are the hottest gadget in town as South Mississippi prepares for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun.
Eclipse glasses are the hottest gadget in town as South Mississippi prepares for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun. Rainbow Symphony

Solar glasses may be eclipsing even those fidget spinners as the hottest-selling gadget in South Mississippi.

The glasses resemble 3-D movie glasses and sell for as little as $2. They are sold out at the Best Buy in D’Iberville, but there’s still time for another shipment. Kirkland’s at The Promenade in D’Iberville was down to the last six pair on Monday while the Lowe’s in Gulfport still has a supply.

With the Aug. 21 solar eclipse just two weeks away, the list of eclipse parties is growing. Jackson-George County Library System has joined Infinity Science Center and Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in hosting watch parties. Pre-eclipse workshops will show kids what to expect and how to make pinpoint viewers. Free glasses will be provided at these watch parties to safely view the eclipse.

This is the first solar eclipse in the continental U.S. since 1979 and the first eclipse to extend across the country since 1918.

A total eclipse of the sun will occur across 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina, while in South Mississippi the eclipse will be about 80 percent and peak at 1:30 p.m.

Those who travel north to see totality, when the sun is completely hidden, can remove their glasses for the less than 3 minutes to see “a truly stunning site,” according to the website. Glasses should not be removed in South Mississippi, where the sun will be only partially covered by the moon.

Local retailers listed as places that may have the solar glasses for sale are Best Buy, Circle K gas stations, Kirklands, Lowe’s, Pilot/Flying J and Walmart, although calls placed to several of these places showed they were sold out or don’t have any to sell. The Lowe’s website says hundreds are available at local stores or they can be ordered online.

A viewing guide warns that only those wearing approved glasses should look at the sun to prevent serious eye damage or blindness.

Eric Schmidt, M.D., with The Center for Eye Care in Ocean Springs, said light from the sun focuses on the retina and can burn this region and leave people blind,.

“If you’re going to watch the solar eclipse, it is important to know that you absolutely cannot stare at it unless you’re witnessing a total eclipse,” he said, which will not occur in South Mississippi. “Even regular sunglasses are not adequate to stare at the eclipse with. If you’re going to stare at the eclipse, you must use special solar viewing glasses, which filter out more than 99 percent of the sun’s light.”

Some online sellers are pawning off cheap solar products, he said, so if the sun seems really bright, people should not stare at it.

Local eclipse events

Aug. 18

▪ NASA Pre-event program at Ina Thompson Moss Point Library, 6:30-8 p.m.

Aug. 19

▪ Family Event at Ocean Springs Municipal Library, 10 a.m.

▪ Solar Eclipse Workshop at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Gulfport, noon-2 p.m.

Aug. 21

▪ Solar Eclipse Day at Infinity Science Center in Hancock County. Activities 9 a.m.-noon. Free solar glasses for watching eclipse at 1:30 p.m. $15 for adults, $12 for seniors age 55 and older, $12 for military and $8 for children ages 4-13

▪ East Central Public Library, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

▪ Lucedale/George County Public Library, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

▪ Pascagoula Public Library, noon

▪ St. Martin Public Library, 1 p.m.

▪ Vancleave Public Library, noon

▪ Solar Eclipse Watch Party at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, 12:30-2:30 p.m. with solar glasses and museum admission included. $10 for ages 1 and older, $8 for military and seniors age 62 and older and free for museum members.

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