Astronomy group sends 16,000 recycled solar eclipse glasses to Ethiopia

The glasses were originally used for the 2017 solar eclipse in the US and will get a new life during the June 21 eclipse.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Eclipse glasses are designed to let you safely view the sun.

Amanda Kooser/CNET

There's a "ring of fire" annular eclipse coming up this weekend, on June 21, and people in the town of Lalibela in Ethiopia will be in the right place to witness the full beauty of the celestial show.

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting astronomy worldwide, said on Thursday that it's sending 16,000 recycled eclipse glasses to Lalibela for distribution to households and neighboring villages.

AWB worked with telescope company Explore Scientific on a major glasses-collection campaign after the 2017 eclipse in the US. The specialty glasses were in high demand prior to the eclipse, and there were concerns about sales of counterfeit glasses.  

"Glasses were sent to Explore Scientific's Arkansas warehouse where they were inspected by volunteers from non-profit group North West Arkansas Space to make sure they meet safety certifications, and are not damaged or counterfeit," said AWB

The campaign collected over 5 million glasses. The group previously sent thousands of recycled glasses to skywatchers in South America, India, Sri Lanka and China for eclipse events in 2019, and plans to distribute glasses for future solar eclipses.

AWB said Lalibela city officials will use volunteers to give out the glasses and raise public awareness about the eclipse and safe viewing methods. 

"Living in such uncertain times, we hope that by sharing across space and time the experience of witnessing the natural beauty of a solar eclipse we can help transcend borders, and bring a sense of peace and togetherness, which is so needed these days," said Zoe Chee, AWB interim executive director.

For more on viewing eclipses, both solar and lunar, check out our CNET guide.

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