If you’re anything like the staff of Atlas Obscura, you’re probably almost ready for the August 21 solar eclipse. You’ve gotten appropriately pumped. You’ve sung some Bonnie Tyler. You’ve sent your most burning celestial questions to your very favorite website. There is, perhaps, just one thing you haven’t done: gotten your paws on a pair of extremely fashionable, extremely necessary eclipse-viewing glasses.
Never fear: as usual, your local library has (most likely) got your back. Up until the very moment the moon blacks out the sun, thousands of libraries across the United States are giving out eclipse glasses for free.
Many of the gratis glasses come from the STAR Library Network (or STAR_Net), a nonprofit that helps hook libraries up with science and technology resources. According to their website, “STAR_Net… has distributed over 2.1 million safe eclipse glasses to 7,000 unique locations including public library branches, bookmobiles, tribal libraries, library consortia, and state libraries in all 50 states.”
If you’d like to find out whether yours is one of them, check out this handy map. (Most libraries suggest you call ahead before coming in, though, in case they’re out.)
And if you’d rather get your own, be sure to choose a supplier from the American Astronomical Society’s list of reputable solar viewer vendors. It’s the only surefire way to avoid eclipse-eyeglass scammers, which are suddenly rampant.
You can trust the libraries, though—they want to keep your eyes safe, so that once all the fun is over, you can get back to books.