News / Toronto

Special solar eclipse glasses vanish from Toronto shelves

Don't worry— Metro has you covered with a DIY guide to making your own.

Canadian Space Agency diagram on how a pinhole camera works

Canadian Space Agency / Contributed

Canadian Space Agency diagram on how a pinhole camera works

In advance of the sun's partial disappearance over Toronto on Monday afternoon, solar eclipse glasses are vanishing across the city.

Best Buy Canada sold out of the $1.50 glasses across the country "about a week ago," said customer support representative Jay Fut. Only the Yonge and Dundas location at the Eaton's Centre had glasses available as of Sunday afternoon.

The special glasses are needed to avoid vision damage that comes with directly looking at the sun. The lenses block out all but the brightest light, which helps protect the eyes of people who want to glance at the special astronomical event.

Sunglasses are not an adequate substitute, and the solar eclipse glasses should be worn over prescription glasses.

Demand has only picked up as North America inches closer to its first major solar eclipse since 1979, with one person on Twitter observing that finding the glasses feels like buying last-minute roses on Valentine's Day.

Fut told Metro that he's getting calls about solar eclipse glasses every three minutes. Local retailer Mastermind Toys, which was receiving inquiries about the glasses every 10 minutes on Sunday, sold out of their $2.99 glasses a week ago.

Designer eyewear retailer Warby Parker was also providing solar eclipse glasses, but they are also all out. The company posted a how-to guide on its website that explains for people unable to get the glasses how they can build a pinhole camera to see the eclipse.

The sudden rush to procure solar eclipse glasses will be lucrative for some specialty companies. Tennessee-based American Paper Optics expects to sell 40 million glasses a windfall that is projected to double company revenue compared to last year, according to Inc. magazine.

Locals who already go their solar eclipse glasses are already cashing in too. On websites like CraigsList and Kijiji the glasses were being listed on the secondary market for $6 to $50 each.

The glasses will be available at local viewing parties, but supplies will be limited. In Toronto the sun will only be 70 per cent covered, meaning that the city will not go dark. The best time to see the phenomenon is 2:30 p.m., and it is most visible by using a telescope and solar eclipse glasses. Pinhole cameras work as a DIY substitute.

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