A school near Georgia’s coast is collecting eclipse glasses for a group that plans to make them available to schools in Asia and South America so students there can view an upcoming eclipse in that part of the world.
The Savannah Morning News reports that Chatham Academy in Savannah is collecting the glasses in the school’s front office. The glasses will then be sent to California-based Astronomers Without Borders.
The nonprofit astronomy group plans to distribute the glasses to underprivileged children in South America and Asia for the eclipse that will pass through those continents in 2019, the newspaper reported.
The Telfair Museum in Savannah is also collecting glasses for the effort.
The next chance to see a solar eclipse over the U.S. won’t come until 2024.
Astronomers Without Borders also led an initiative prior to the Great American Eclipse during which they distributed more than 100,000 donated glasses to places that wouldn’t normally get them. Those places included schools, shelters, halfway houses and veterans’ homes.
The organization’s founder, Mike Simmons, said he found during his travels – some spent chasing eclipses – that the love of astronomy is a way to connect people from different cultures.
“It’s been in every culture throughout history, it’s truly universal. We build bridges through that,” Simmons said. “The borders shift around, but the sky remains the same.”
In Georgia, Anne Quaile saw the initiative and was impressed. She’s an art and science teacher at Chatham Academy.
“They donated 100,000 pairs of glasses to places in the United States for the eclipse that were under-served communities, underprivileged community centers,” Quaile said. “They’ve already done it here, but they’re going to send them out in 2019 to schools in Asia and South America that can’t afford to buy the glasses themselves.”
Quaile decided there was something she could do to help, so she placed a box in the school’s front office to collect the glasses from the public. When Astronomers Without Borders calls for the glasses, Chatham Academy will mail off their stockpile.
“Their big push is: please don’t throw them away,” Quaile said. “So I thought, if we could provide a place to bring them, we could just stockpile them here at Chatham Academy, and when they found out where to send them, we could give them the whole bunch.”
The Telfair Museum decided to help out with the effort as well.
Vicki Scharfberg, Telfair’s director of Marketing and PR, said that leading up to the eclipse, the group was having trouble finding glasses.
At the last minute, a Telfair staff member returned from a trip to Florida, with a bundle of eclipse glasses in hand. Scharfberg said they were grateful for the act of kindness and felt compelled to pass it on.
“For us, it’s like paying it forward,” Scharfberg said. “Somebody was kind enough to do it for us, and the only right thing to do is help other people.”