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Can't find solar eclipse viewing glasses? You're not alone

Solar viewing glasses are seen with solar binoculars Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — With Monday's solar eclipse fast approaching, the most important devices for watching, eclipse viewing glasses, are seemingly unavailable in Fargo-Moorhead.

Every location that carried the glasses in the metro area was sold out on Thursday, Aug. 17. The only location known to have plans of restocking before the eclipse is the Walmart at 4731 13th Ave. S. in Fargo. The store has a shipment coming Friday, Aug. 18.

While glasses are available for purchase online, Amazon released a statement Thursday that large amounts of counterfeit glasses have been sold. The company warned customers to be wary of purchasing any item unless it comes from the manufacturer or authorized retailer. Even uncertified glasses can look like certified ones.

Linda Winkler, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Minnesota State University Moorhead, said if someone is worried that he or she may have purchased a faulty pair, that person can test the glasses at home.

"The best thing to do is hold it up to room light, and if you can see any room light through the shades, it's probably not true," Winkler said.

Sylvio May, an associate professor of physics at North Dakota State University, said verified glasses remove over 99 percent of light, including all ultraviolet light and "anything dangerous for the eyes."

NASA recommends buying eclipse viewing glasses from one of five companies: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

This means people should not use sunglasses or 3D movie glasses, May said. Welders' shields can only be used if they are the shade 14, Winkler added.

Do-it-yourself shades can be made, but certified glasses are the preferred method of eye protection.

Both professors said the best option for those hoping to view the eclipse but struggling to find certified glasses is to attend one of several viewing parties in Fargo-Moorhead. NDSU and MSUM are both planning parties. Although each site has a limited number of glasses, telescopes will be available and glasses can be shared.

The eclipse will start at 11:40 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, and peak at 1 p.m. before ending at 2:20 p.m., May said.