Friday’s eclipse: “No one is distributing the correct glasses!”

Be warned. As opposed to what happened the last time Portugal was affected by a solar eclipse – no-one seems to be selling the correct filters through which people can safely observe Friday’s event. Indeed, it has hardly been broadcast. Thus Lisbon’s Observatory, along with the Ministry of Education, is pulling out all the stops to ensure people look after themselves.

The risks of instant blindness are high, say experts – and even if people avoid instant blindness, they could find blindness comes gradually.

Observatory president Rui Agostinho explained: “This year, contrary to 2005 (when there was the last eclipse) no-one has been stocking the right glasses.”

A way round the problem is to follow the event (visible during the morning of March 20) by rigging up a system using cardboard sheeting and mirrors. This is what education chiefs will be advising schoolchildren throughout the week as the country wakes up to the imminence of this astronomical event.

As for the correct glasses, very few are available.

Raimundo Agostinho of Astrofoto told reporters: “They cost around €4.5 but for some reason this year they are not being sold by pharmacies. No-one seems to have taken much interest in the eclipse at all, which is why I only ordered a few glasses myself and have now sold almost all of them.”

As already reported in the Resident, Friday’s eclipse is expected to be best seen in the Azores – although Lisbon and Porto should offer good ‘sightings’ of the sun partially-blotted out by the moon’s shadow.

The eclipse will be total only in the Faroe Islands, plunging them into two minutes of night.

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