Whoops! Hey, there, Tacoma, Did you forget to get eclipse glasses? You are not alone (raises hand….). I’ve done my best to round up spots where you can still score some around the South Puget Sound, and I have some ideas if you can’t find any, as well as a round up of area events for safe viewing with your kids. Do note the update below regarding glasses bought on Amazon.
Update-A quick note that Amazon is notifying customers that there may be problems with some eclipse glasses sold on their site. If you purchased your glasses from Amazon, double check them. More on what to look for and other options below.
When and Where Can I See The Eclipse?
- The eclipse will be on August 21st.
- We are not in the, “Zone of totality,” but it will be more than 90%-something like 94% in Lakewood-pretty cool! You can go here to see a map showing the path of the eclipse across the country.
- If you want to experience total darkness, you can go south to Oregon, but you should know that basically every hotel room, campsite, and backyard with room for a tent has been booked solid for months. But, who knows? Maybe you’ll luck into a cancellation. Do be prepared to deal with a once in a lifetime traffic jam on the way back. Update-Even if you aren’t going all the way to Oregon, you may run into traffic headaches on Southbound I-5 prior to the eclipse and on Northbound I-5 after. Be sure to check traffic before you head out and have your car gassed up.
- In the South Sound the eclipse runs from 9:08 a.m. to 11:38 a.m. At around 10:20 it will be at its maximum.
- Note that as of now the odds of visibility are about 50%. If it’s cloudy it will still get darker, but you won’t be able to observe as much. #NorthwestProblems
When and Where Are Local Eclipse Events? How Can I Go To One? Will They Have Glasses?
- If you’d like to attend an event, The Pierce College Science Dome is hosting a FREE event open to the public with pre and post eclipse presentations, safe viewing, and a live stream from NASA. They will also have glasses on a first come, first served basis. This is a free, drop in event (no reservations). If they run out of glasses they will have other safe viewing options, including telescopes with appropriate filters. They want you to know that these options are probably better for young children than using the glasses!
- If you’re closer to Seattle, there will also be events at the Pacific Science Center.
- The Point Defiance Zoo is open during the eclipse and giving out glasses to the first 300 visitors. It will be interesting to see how the animals react to the darkness! Glasses are first come; first served. You will need to pay admission to the zoo or use your pass.
- Wild Waves is hosting an Eclipse Day event and giving out glasses to the first 1,000. You will need to pay for admission, which includes water park entry.
- PLU is hosting an event with a bunch of activities and giving out glasses to the first 250. The activities look like a lot of fun. I’m not sure how long that glasses supply will hold up. Again, this is a first come; first served event.
- The Washington State Library in Tumwater is also hosting an event. They have a limited number of glasses to give out, as well as some other safe viewing options if they run out. You are encouraged to take the bus here as transportation is limited.
- The Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor is holding an event for members. I imagine you could still become one, but you will need to call and check on that. Their remaining glasses will be given out first come, first served to members at the event.
- Northwest Trek is doing an event with a special tram ride for the first 80 guests and glasses for the first 200.
- Molen Orthodontics in Sumner is hosting an event for patients (check your promotions tab in your email). They are asking you not to come early and to be prepared to share their limited supply of glasses.
- The Kent Library is doing a viewing event and will have glasses available first come; first served (Note:I’m a little nervous about this one based on what has happened with glasses at other libraries, But they will have other safe viewing options).
- The Museum of Flight is doing an event with glasses for the first 1,000 and viewing of a live stream of the event across the country in their theater (theater access is free with admission; the outside viewing is free-no reservations).
- Thanks to reader, Jennifer, for tipping us off to those last two options! Know of another one? Let us know!
How Can We Safely Observe The Eclipse From Home?
- You MUST have special glasses to safely observe the eclipse (More on those below). My mom happened to chat with her eye doctor friend recently, and he emphasized that even looking at that last sliver of sun can permanently damage your eye sight, and it is NOT damage that can be repaired. Because we are not in the zone of totality, it is Never going to be safe to look at the sun without protection during this event.
- I know…..freaky, right? So make sure that you have someone dedicated to monitoring your young children if you are going to do this, and make sure you have secured their glasses to their little noggins with rubber bands or something to make sure they don’t slip. (Thanks to Jennifer Johnson for this brilliant idea-I’ve linked to a complete article she did for Parent Map at the bottom of this post). It is also NOT safe to look at the eclipse through binoculars, telescopes, sunglasses, or your phone. You can, apparently, buy special filters to put over them.
- If you haven’t scored glasses, one option is to make a pinhole camera. This lets you watch the eclipse without actually looking at the sun.Here is another option using a cereal box. I like this idea for kids.
- You may have also seen some folks posting about using a welder’s helmet. According to this post (see link below), the only way that is safe is if it is #12 or higher, and apparently most are not. If you’re considering going this route, make sure to check the number and read this first.
- You could also watch the eclipse on TV or via your computer (I’m talking watching a stream of it via NASA-not holding your computer to the sun. You knew that, right)?
- Here is the NASA site, which will have a live stream for you.
Where Can I Get Eclipse Glasses For Free?
- If you attend the Yelm Library event you can get glasses (or at least the kids can). The PCL library system is out of glasses, and no other libraries have them. Please don’t call your poor librarians asking about them.
- You can also get a free pair of glasses from our friends at Travel Tacoma if you stop by their visitors’ center on the 19th. More details on that and some of their suggestions for places to watch here. I would go early to get these and call if you’re coming from a distance. Note that it’s one per person, so if you need four, you need to bring the family along!
- If you’re up for a bit of a jaunt, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art just posted on fb that they have gotten in 5,000 pairs. They’ll be available after 3PM Saturday. They ask you Not to call, so yeah-this one is a bit of a gamble. Maybe you know someone on the island? Free but donations welcome.
- You can attend one of the events mentioned above.
Where Can I Buy Eclipse Glasses?
- Good luck? At the risk of being totally unhelpful, most everywhere I’ve heard about is sold out. I have some intrepid friends who were able to score some from Fred Meyer. You might try doing a shout out to your fb friends. A lot of them came in packs of ten. Maybe someone who isn’t a procrastinator will sell you some…….I didn’t get any either, so don’t feel bad. If you did buy some already, particularly if you bought them online, do make sure you got good ones!
How Do I Know If I Bought Good Glasses?
If you were lucky to buy glasses, you may now be worried about reports about counterfeit or defective glasses. As we mentioned above, Amazon sent out emails about some of the glasses sold through their site. I would probably not use glasses bought on Amazon at this point, but that’s just me.
- This article has helpful info. on how to make sure you bought good ones.
- This article has a list of approved brands and vendors.
How Can I Learn More?
- If you can’t attend one of the events mentioned above, there are a lot of great online resources and books you might check out. A good place to start is the NASA website which has tons of information, art and science activities, and more.
- Here is A guide to understanding and viewing the eclipse from the National Science Teachers Association. This would be particularly nice if you’re homeschoolers, or if your kids are back in school of some kind already.
- Jennifer Johnson has a great article on eclipse viewing over at Parent Map.