Still have your specialized solar eclipse glasses from August's big event? Wonder what use they could possibly have beyond a nostalgic keepsake? Below are just a few ideas for those who either placed their glasses in a drawer or received them in the mail days after the moment of their intended use.
You can still get some mileage of out your specialized specs.
Check out the sun's new spots
During the solar eclipse, the sun appeared through solar glasses as a flat, featureless orange disc. But take a look today and you would be surprised to see it sporting black freckles. Called sunspots, these temporary phenomena indicate cooler surface temperatures and intense magnetic disturbances. In addition to being closely associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections, like the massive explosions from early September, they're also mindbogglingly huge. The two regions currently visible on the sun are larger than two dozen Earths.
Donate them to a charity
Astronomers Without Borders is now collecting used solar eclipse glasses for upcoming solar events in South America and Asia. (Photo: Astronomers Without Borders/Facebook)
If your eclipse glasses are in good shape and do not feature any creases or scratches on the lenses, you may want to donate them to Astronomers Without Borders. Since 2007, the group has worked to spread astronomy around the world; sponsoring events and celebrations in developed countries to help sponsor equipment and training for those in undeveloped countries.
The group is currently collecting used, certified solar eclipse glasses to distribute freely to schools in South America and Asia for the 2019 total solar eclipse across those continents. They've set up hundreds of collection stations across the U.S. (check out the interactive map here) and have also made it incredibly easy to start your own. While there is no deadline for sending in your glasses, AWB expects the bulk of donations to last through the end of September.
Save them for the 2019 Transit of Mercury
A composite image of the Transit of Mercury from May 9, 2016. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight/flickr)
Before the close of the decade, the sun will play host to another celestial crossing: the Transit of Mercury. Cities like New York, Detroit, Chicago and Washington D.C. will witness the full duration of Mercury's 5 hour 28 minute journey across the sun, while others like Los Angeles, Houston and Portland will see a partial transit.
There are only about 13 Mercury Transits every century, so plan accordingly. While the last occurred in 2016, the next will not take place again until November 2032.
Wherever you are in North America on November 11, 2019, you'll need solar shades to view the tiny dot of Mercury making its way. Your 2017 glasses should fit the bill nicely.
Save them for the 2024 eclipse
If you received a pair of solar eclipse glasses manufactured under the latest ISO standards adopted in 2015 (ISO-12312-2), the filters that shield your eyes have been designed not to degrade. So if someone tells you they're only good for three years, feel free to ignore that advice.
This in mind, you'll need to keep your glasses in a safe spot, as any scratches or warping of the lenses could damage your eyes. As long as they're ISO-12312-2 approved and stored properly, you should be ahead of the game when the next total solar eclipse crosses from Texas to Maine on April 8, 2024.
Go as a solar eclipse for Halloween
With a little bit of arts and crafts, your solar eclipse glasses can be the perfect accessory for a 'totality awesome' eclipse costume. (Photo: Aesia Toliver/Twitter)
As one of the biggest celestial and cultural events of the year, the total solar eclipse also makes a pretty good theme for a last-minute Halloween costume. With a little sewing, you could don your glasses and go as totality like this young lady, cut out the filters and show the world your "lunar eclipse contact lenses," or just team up with a friend and spend the night upstaging each other as the sun and moon.
There's also this fantastic solar eclipse dress, because why not.
Recycle, recycle, recycle
If all of the above fails to impress, go ahead and recycle those glasses to be reborn as something else for another day. The cardboard frames can be placed right into the recycle bin, but you'll need to cut out the solar filter lenses first. If your local camera store (if it still exists) won't take the solar filter to be recycled with their other film, just toss them in the trash.