ON August 21, Canadians will get to see what could be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many: a partial solar eclipse. To experience the eclipse safely, special-purpose solar filter glasses are necessary. The eye gear must be designated ISO 12312-2, meaning they meet the eye protection requirements for the direct observation of the sun. Regular sunglasses do not provide enough protection, since they don’t block out the ultra-violet and infrared rays that can damage the eyes.

Counterfeit eclipse glasses have raised safety concerns recently and NASA is warning eclipse-gazers to look for products with an “ISO” icon and the company name and contact information clearly printed on the glasses. They also suggest inspecting the solar filter lenses for scratches or damage before use.

Celestron EclipSmart Solar Shades, available at London Drugs, meet the ISO protection requirements for the safe viewing of the eclipse and are made by an American Astronomical Society-approved producer. The glasses will be available at all London Drugs locations and online at LondonDrugs.com. A single pair retails for $3.49 and four packs are $12.99.

According to NASA, an eclipse of this magnitude hasn’t been seen since 1918. Those in Vancouver and Victoria will see 90 per cent of the sun go dark. The eclipse will cover 80 per cent of the sun in Calgary and Regina, about 75 per cent in Edmonton and Winnipeg. The next event of this kind visible to Canadians won’t occur until 2044.

Customers can bring their Celestron EclipSmart Solar Shades to London Drugs for recycling after the eclipse on August 21 to receive a coupon for $10 off the purchase of any regularly priced camera, lens or binoculars valued at $99 or higher.