In less than two weeks, it will be time for the first transcontinental eclipse across the U.S. in 99 years, and if you’re planning on watching it from Beaufort County, you’ll need to get eclipse glasses to witness the magic safely.
And you need to act quickly, as local and online retailers have been selling out. Luckily, some free options are still available.
Where to find free eclipse glasses
▪ Beaufort County Libraries: Library branches around the county will be hosting eclipse-related programming both before and during the big event, and those who attend can score a pair of eclipse glasses for free at branches on the day of the eclipse. They are intended to be used specifically for programming hosted by Beaufort County Libraries. Victor Kulik, librarian at the St. Helena branch, said that every branch should have plenty that day, though they will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Libraries have stopped distributing glasses in advance of the eclipse.
▪ Beaufort Academy: The private school will hand out free glasses at its eclipse viewing event starting at 1:30 p.m. the day of the eclipse. It will feature guest speakers and displays presented in association with the Kennedy Space Center, followed by eclipse viewing from the football field.
▪ Beaufort County Schools: The Beaufort County School District has procured 23,000 pairs of eclipse glasses that will be distributed to students free of charge after the school year begins on Aug. 17.
Where to buy eclipse glasses
▪ The Herb Room Organic Apothecary: The Hilton Head Island herb shop will have 300 pairs of glasses on hand at the price of $3 a pair starting Thursday. It is located at 14 New Orleans Road on Hilton Head Island.
▪ Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory: The T-shirt printer has about 20 pairs of eclipse glasses left and expects to be sold out by at some point on Wednesday. They are located at 67 Arrow Road on Hilton Head Island. Act quickly!
▪ South Carolina State Park Stores: Glasses will be available in person for $1.99 up to and including the day of the eclipse. Online they will be available until Monday and will cost $2.49 with shipping included.
Sold out, but could be getting more
▪ Lowe’s: The Bluffton location is currently out of stock, but should be getting additional glasses before the eclipse. Customers can reserve them in person and receive a call when they arrive. The Beaufort location is expected to have additional glasses in stock Thursday. They can also be purchased online through the Lowe’s website and picked up in store. They are available for $1.98 a pair.
▪ Walmart: Locations throughout Beaufort County are sold out of the glasses. The location in Hardeeville might be getting additional supplies, but other locations were certain they would not be. Glasses are available through third-party vendors on Walmart’s website starting in packs of four costing $8.69 plus shipping.
▪ The Eye Site of Bluffton: The Bluffton optometrist is selling glasses for $5 but is currently out of stock. The office expects to have more glasses soon, though. It is located at 104 Buckwalter Parkway in Bluffton.
Be sure your glasses are safe
People looking for eclipse glasses should be wary of fake ones, according to NASA, which advises using glasses manufactured by American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17, or AstroSolar Silver/Gold lensed glasses by Baader Planetarium.
Safe glasses will be certified by ISO with a reference number of 12312-2 printed on them.