Planning on watching the eclipse? Get those glasses first

Get your glasses while the getting is good.

The excitement for this summer’s total solar eclipse in St. Louis has led to a task force buying 400,000 sets of viewing glasses which will protect the eyes of those viewing this astronomical event.

These safety glasses protect your eyes by filtering out the harmful ultraviolet and infrared light while allowing good visibility of the eclipse.

“Most of the viewing glasses were purchased directly from Rainbow Symphony by schools, parks, etc. through a discount program arranged by our St. Louis Eclipse Task Force,” said Donald Ficken, chairman of the St. Louis Eclipse Task Force.

Four manufacturers, including Rainbow Symphony certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the international standard for such products.

For three years, the task force has been working on eclipse awareness. Some of its goals are to not only have people view the eclipse but to teach them about it.

The education part is what motivated the task force to find a big discount for the glasses, which will be used by schools, parks, businesses and others around the region.

“We were able to get discounted pricing which is much lower than an individual school, city, park, etc. could achieve,” Ficken said. “Also, the number of glasses being purchased by the organization changes pricing. Generally speaking, the discount has ranged between 10 percent to 40 percent.”

The glasses even were localized, with an advertising agency coming up with a St. Louis design for them.

As demand has grown, suppliers have gotten less interested in giving discounts, Ficken said. The organizations buying from the task force supplier have spent between $100,000 and $150,000, Ficken said.

Libraries, museums, and different retailers bought many of the glasses now on sale to the public.

Many schools that filled out a task force questionnaire are being given the glasses as a donation so students can view and experience the event. The task force gave out the glasses to schools on both sides of the river based in part on which schools have more students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, or the amount of per-pupil expenditures.

A total eclipse is a rarity for any particular location. On average, they happen about every 375 years.

“For the possible only time in your life, you will be able to see the sun’s corona with your naked eye and see the planets and brightest stars in the middle of the day,” Ficken said.

At 1:06 p.m. on Aug. 21 the eclipse will enter Missouri from the northwest, 13 minutes later the eclipse will reach Illinois. The duration of the eclipse will depend on the viewer’s location. Walther Park in De Soto is among the locations with the longest view time with two minutes and 40 seconds.

The last visible total eclipse in St. Louis was in 1442, St. Louis will have to wait until 2505 to see another total solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse will take place in 2024 but St. Louis won’t be in the range of visibility.

Visit to find out more about the efforts of the St. Louis Eclipse Task force, plus links to many other resources.

Original content courtesy of and available at Planning on watching the eclipse? Get those glasses first.