LUMBERTON — If your plan was to go out today or during the weekend to buy ISO-approved viewing glasses with which to watch Monday’s solar eclipse, you may have waited too long.
Lowe’s and Walmart were selling the glasses, but both stores were sold out as of Thursday and don’t expect any new ones coming in. Area optometrists and drug stores contacted in search of viewing glasses to buy also reported they had none to sell.
The online option isn’t much of one. Many suppliers are out of stock. Some sites may not be be offering ISO-approved glasses. In at least one case the supply was pulled because the glasses being offered weren’t ISO approved. And time for them to be shipped and delivered is short.
But all is not lost.
The Robeson County Public Library, at 101 N. Chestnut St. in Lumberton, has handed out its supply of glasses. But, library leaders have plans to get more and give them out the day of the eclipse.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke will be handing out 100 pairs of glasses on a first-come, first-served basis, today during a “Total Solar Eclipse” information program today at 1 p.m. at the Mary Livermore Library on the UNCP campus. It’s a chance to get a pair of viewing glasses and learn about where and when to see the eclipse, how long it will last, what you can expect to see, and how to plan ahead to ensure that you can watch it safely.
The eclipse will cross the southwest corner of North Carolina at the Great Smokey Mountains National Park at 2:46 p.m, according to information provided by UNCP. North Carolina cities that will experience a total solar eclipse are Andrews, Brevard, Bryson City, Franklin, Murphy, and Otto Labyrinth Park. The total solar eclipse will enter North Carolina at 2:33 p.m. and exit at 2:49 p.m.
Some parts of North Carolina will experience partial eclipses, with the eclipse of the sun ranging from 99 percent in Asheville to 87 percent in Elizabeth City. Fayetteville, Laurinburg, and Lumberton will experience partial eclipses, with the moon obscuring 95 percent to 99 percent of the sun. In Robeson County the peak should be at about 2:36 p.m. with 97 percent coverage.
It is critical for Robeson County viewers of the eclipse to use approved eye wear, said Ken Brandt, director of the Robeson County Planetarium.
“Normally, we don’t look at the sun and avoid eye damage from solar radiation,” Brandt said. “Robeson County will get a partial eclipse — 97 percent — so people are tempted to look at the sun, but it’s still dangerous.”
A NASA website offers a way for people without viewing glasses to watch the eclipse.
“An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection,” the site reads. “For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.”
Getting a good view of the eclipse could be imperiled by the weather. Forecasts on Wednesday afternoon called for mostly cloudy skies on Monday, thunderstorms possible and the chance of rain ranging from 40 to 60 percent.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.