[image-1]Hyped for the total eclipse on Aug. 21, but worried about your eyes? Charleston County Public Library is offering free eclipse glasses on a first-come, first-served basis — starting July 3 with 500 pairs at the Main Library. A library card is not needed to receive glasses, but there is a limit of one per household member.

Part of the STAR Network’s eclipse glasses distribution program, the library’s several thousand glasses are provided by the Space Science Institute and feature scratch-resistant, filtered polymer lenses.

The library’s children’s department spearheaded the cooperation with STAR Network, library public relations manager Natalie Hauff said.

“There’s just been so much around the solar eclipse,” Hauff said. “Everybody’s talking about it, so what a wonderful way to get patrons in the door and connect them with educational resources.”

Starting in August, glasses will also be available for pickup at other library branches across the county. Some libraries will be hosting special programming, with glasses available to participants only. Click here for a complete list of locations and dates.

Looking directly into the sun is a good way to kiss your vision goodbye. Similar to a magnifying glass, the lens in your eye focuses light onto your retinas. Anything more than a quick glance can result in permanent damage — literally burning a hole into your retina. Ordinary sunglasses, no matter how dark, won’t protect you as they don’t have the right filters.

Never look at the sun through a camera, telescope, or binoculars. Eclipse glasses won’t protect you — the concentrated rays will damage the filter. There are custom solar filters available for cameras, binoculars, and telescopes, but talk with an astronomer before using one.

Totality, or the point where the moon completely blocks the sun and makes the hidden corona visible, passes over the Lowcountry between 2:40 and 2:50 p.m. on Aug. 21 Make sure you’re in a good spot to watch around 1 p.m. as that’s when the partial eclipse starts.

If you’re not a Charleston County resident, don’t worry. Berkley, Dorchester, and Joint Base Charleston libraries are also offering free eclipse glasses.

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