Those who were able to snag a pair of coveted solar eclipse glasses for Monday's event witnessed a moment in history. But now that the eclipse is over, many are left wondering: What do I do with my glasses?
The little piece of cardboard glasses seem almost useless now, and while it may be tempting to tuck them away for the next U.S. eclipse on April 8, 2024, officials warn against it.
Some eclipse glasses manufacturers warn that the lenses expire after three years, and even if your pair doesn't (most glasses have a listed expiration date), seven years in the back of a junk drawer will likely lead to scratches and abrasions, increasing the risk they won't be effective for the next event.
There's an alternative.
Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), an organization that works to bring astronomy resources to the less fortunate, has asked that people "don't waste, donate" their eclipse glasses.
AWB's corporate partners will help collect and re-purpose eclipse glasses and will redistribute the specs to under-served South American and Asian schools, where the next solar eclipse will take place on July 2, 2019.
If the glasses are compliant with NASA's safety standards and aren't damaged, then they can be reused, according to the space organization.
As AWB currently works to set up the specific drop-off protocol, the organization asks that people not send the glasses directly to them, but instead to Arkansas-based telescope company Explore Scientific, which is working with the AWB program.
Donating the glasses is also much more environmentally friendly, too.
While the flimsy eyewear may seem small, tossing tens of millions of the paper frames nationwide is going to make up quite the trash pile.
People can also check with local schools to see if science departments can make use of the glasses for future projects.
Glasses can be mailed to Explore Scientific at 621 Madison St., Springdale, AR 72762.
To learn more about Explore Scientific, visit http://www.explorescientific.com/
Contact Samantha Putterman at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @samputterman.