Solar eclipse enthusiasts in Baton Rouge are finding it difficult to get their hands on safe viewing glasses, as local businesses are either sold out or their available stock is quickly dwindling.
At the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, people bought 400 pairs in 15 minutes Thursday, right after the downtown museum's shop opened. It was the last shipment they were scheduled to receive before Monday's eclipse.
"It was wild; they went like hot cakes," said Hayley Westphal, the museum's audience engagement and public relations manager. They have been selling the $2 glasses for months, and with the last 400 gone, they've sold almost 1,000, she said.
Baton Rouge viewers will gather Monday between 11:57 a.m. and 2:54 p.m. as the moon passes in front of the sun; but most folks in Louisiana will see only a partial eclipse, with peak coverage of the sun in Baton Rouge at 1:29 p.m.
Crys Aprill and her family began planning for the solar eclipse a year ago, determined to tr…
Staring at the sun can be dangerous, so would-be viewers may have to improvise a solar viewing device if they haven't already snagged one of the now mostly sold-out glasses.
The Highland Road Park Observatory will sell a limited number of solar viewing glasses Monday morning, but Observatory Manager Christopher Kersey expects those, too, will run out quickly.
The North Mall Drive Toys "R" Us sold out of the glasses early in the week, said customer service representative Shalia Wagner, who added that the phone has been "ringing off the hook" with questions about them. The store will not receive another shipment in time for the eclipse.
The Towne Center Books-A-Million also sold out of a couple hundred pairs and the College Drive Walmart never received a shipment, despite reports.
The Cortana Place Lowe's sold all of its 600 pairs by Tuesday and does not have more on order, said Shirley Evans, the store's telephone operator. Evans did say, however, that the location in Opelousas is expecting 300 more pairs before the eclipse.
Libraries in East Baton Rouge on Wednesday put together a list of the places with the glasses in the stock, said Assistant Library Director Mary Stein. But she was shocked to hear that so many places were sold out as library staff called around to local businesses.
Because people have “been bit by the eclipse bug,” as Stein put it, the library will have 50 pairs of glasses at a viewing party Monday between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Delmont Gardens branch library. Participants must register by calling (225) 354-7050.
In addition to providing some glasses at the party, the library will also have materials and instructions on hand to create pinhole viewers that also can be used to watch the eclipse, Stein said.
David Bickmeier, a former professional photographer who once taught classes on making pinhole viewers, took to the neighborhood website Nextdoor in an effort to tell his neighbors about this safe viewing alternative. As his neighbors traded tips on what businesses had already sold out, Bickmeier posted step-by-step photos on how to make the viewers with a cardboard box, a piece of white paper, tape and tinfoil.
Bickmeier said the devices work like "a periscope that's coming from behind you" because the viewers put their backs to the sun while they look into the box, where an image of the sun is projected through a pinhole in the box.
"This is probably the safest way for really young kids (to watch) because they're not actually looking at the sun," Westphal said. But she also pointed out that locals without glasses should also take advantage of available solar viewing telescopes.
Both the Louisiana Science and Art Museum, on River Road downtown along the Mississippi River levee between Government Street and North Boulevard, and the Highland Road Park Observatory at 13800 Highland Road will have solar viewing telescopes available Monday for people to share.
The Highland Road Park Observatory will have four such telescopes as well as a projection device that will display the image of the sun onto a sheet of paper, Kersey said.
"Don't put your eggs in one basket, start putting together your own projection device," Kersey advised. "Don't panic about the solar viewers; that's one of the many ways to view it."