WYDOT partners with Astronomers Without Borders to redistribute eclipse glasses

August 28, 2017

More than 100 million pairs of eclipse glasses were distributed as part of “The Great American Total Solar Eclipse.”

Sadly, many of those will end up in landfills.

However, the Wyoming Department of Transportation is partnering with Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) to collect and reuse eclipse glasses.

“I’m sure there were more than 100 million based on manufacturers’ numbers,” AWB Founder and President Mike Simmons. “This eclipse was seen by far more than any other eclipse in history. It’s possible that more eclipse glasses were distributed for this eclipse than all other previous eclipses.”

WYDOT will be collecting the glasses at the following offices:

5300 Bishop Blvd., Cheyenne
900 Bryan Stock Trail, Casper
68 16th Street, Wheatland
3615 W. Main Street, Riverton
1040 E. Evans Road, Jackson

Simmons said the nonprofit organization collects and redistributes the glasses around the world where there will be upcoming eclipses. Right now, the organization is focused on getting glasses to schools in South America and Asia for eclipses in 2019, helping those schools better prepare for educating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who might not be able to afford the glasses otherwise.

Simmons said many schools in these countries don’t have the resources to put labs in schools so students can get firsthand experience with science and redistributing the eclipse glasses gives the schools and teachers the opportunity to do something they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

“Astronomy is a gateway field,” Simmons said. “It gives a opportunity to bridge into a number of other scientific fields. It’s even more important in other countries where they don’t have the opportunity.”

In the long-term, it’s about inspiring students and teachers to get involved with and go into scientific fields, he said.

Simmons was in Casper on Monday handing out eclipse glasses up until the event.

AWB distributed 130,000 sets of glasses, mostly in schools in poor areas and children’s hospitals leading up to Monday’s total eclipse

Many fake eclipse glasses were distributed during the event. Simmons stopped several people in Casper from using them, giving them glasses he knew would protect their eyes. As part of the process of redistributing the glasses for this program, AWB is working with Explore Scientific out of Springdale, Arizona, to sort through and ensure the redistributed glasses are not fake or damaged before being used again.

Alternatively, if someone cannot get their glasses to one of the locations listed, they can be recycled. The lenses should be popped out of the cardboard before recycling.

Learn more about AWB at astronomerswithoutborders.org.

For more information, contact WYDOT Senior Public Affairs Specialist J.L. O’Brien at 307-777-4439.