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Business is looking up: Solar eclipse glasses selling fast in Cape Breton

Aneal Virick sports a pair of special solar eclipse glasses in his Sydney Odditorium shop, along with his wife, Lisa, and a prized alien model. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
Aneal Virick sports a pair of special solar eclipse glasses in his Sydney Odditorium shop, along with his wife, Lisa, and a prized alien model. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

Retailers in Sydney, N.S., are having a hard time keeping special viewing glasses in stock in anticipation of next week's solar eclipse.

The Sydney Odditorium, which sells rocks, fossils and other curiosities, sold out of its first order and was restocked on Tuesday, but customers were still snapping up the eclipse glasses, said owner Aneal Virick.

"We sold out our first little batch and then we upped again and we're about halfway through what we have now," he said.

Virick placed his first order in 2023, but sales really only picked up in the last couple of weeks.

"My wife and I are big space nerds so we've been waiting for this for a while," he said.

"I'm so excited for this. Like I said, I think we bought our first set getting ready for this last year, being like 'Oh my God it's coming. This is it, it's finally coming.'"

Retailers in and around Sydney, N.S., have sold hundreds of these special solar eclipse glasses recently. Experts say they should be labelled ISO 12312-2 certified to safely look at the sun.
Retailers in and around Sydney, N.S., have sold hundreds of these special solar eclipse glasses recently. Experts say they should be labelled ISO 12312-2 certified to safely look at the sun.

Retailers in and around Sydney, N.S., have sold hundreds of these special solar eclipse glasses recently. Experts say they should be labelled ISO 12312-2 certified to safely look at the sun. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The Canadian Tire in Sydney sold all 400 of its pairs of eclipse glasses in a week.

The Bargain Basket in nearby Glace Bay sold out its first order and had more in earlier this week.

Licensed optician Glenna Locke said MacLeod Optical in Sydney sold 150 pairs and ordered 300 more, which were gone in half a day Tuesday.

She said the eclipse will be exciting, but she still advises caution.

Locke said people should only use viewing glasses that are ISO 12312-2 certified.

She also said the glasses should not be scratched or torn, which could lead to eye damage.

Locke said people should never look at the sun without proper eye protection.

Smartphone camera not recommended

"Watching a solar eclipse on your smartphone camera can put you at risk of accidentally looking at the sun when trying to line up your camera and it could also possibly damage your smartphone camera," she said.

Assuming it's not cloudy next Monday afternoon, most of Atlantic Canada will see a good piece of the sun disappear sometime after 3:30 p.m. local time when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.

According to the Canadian Space Agency, the only place in Nova Scotia where the sun will completely disappear is in the small northern Cape Breton community of Meat Cove.

The eclipse is expected to peak at around 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

'Teachable moment'

Virick's eclipse glasses are properly certified.

He is hoping it won't be cloudy on Monday. He is setting aside a few pairs of viewing glasses if people want to watch the eclipse as it happens from his parking lot on Kings Road in Sydney.

"It's a great teachable moment, so make sure you get people out and take a look at it and be safe and enjoy it," he said. "It's so cool."

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