SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Provo family projected to sell half a million glasses for total solar eclipse

Apr 4, 2024, 7:03 PM | Updated: 7:04 pm

PROVO — Many Utahns are hitting the road for prime viewing of Monday’s total solar eclipse. It’s projected to hit its peak around noon on Monday, MST, but Utah is not in the path of totality.

A family in Provo is helping people across the country prepare for the celestial event.

Roger and Allyssa Sarkis decided to design, sell and ship their own eclipse glasses after the 2017 solar eclipse.

“Everybody flooded out of the offices downtown Salt Lake, and everybody stopped for 20 minutes and watched this thing,” Roger said. “There were all these glasses that now had no purpose. I collected all the used ones that weren’t damaged, and we shipped them down to South America.”

He and his wife then launched their business from their garage.

“We do the designs and we have a manufacturing partner based out of Tennessee that prints them for us and then ships them here,” he said.

Roger teaches earth sciences and geography at Utah Valley University, so these events have always been of interest to him.

“This is one moment where we can all stop and see something happen that we’ve talked about in class,” he said.

He said he and his wife found a lot of the lenses of other glasses already on the market didn’t protect vision as much as they should.

“What you want to look for any legitimate brand of glasses is going to have this symbol, the ISO symbol,” Roger said.

What started as a side gig is now reaching astronomical numbers.

“If the current trend prevails by Monday, we will have sold half a million pair,” he said.

Utah isn’t in the path of totality, but those in the northwestern part of the state and along the Wasatch Front will see the sky darken. Obscurity is projected to be around 50%.

“We’ll see the partial eclipse through broken clouds, but the further southeast you go in the state, you may see a little bit more cloud coverage,” said KSL meteorologist, Devan Masciulli.

She said there’s a lot of uncertainty for travelers.

“It’s looking pretty dicey in Texas, the southeastern parts of Oklahoma and at least the southern half of Missouri,” she said.

The weather could change but, as of right now, there are some areas of the country where viewing could be good.

“It’s looking like the best place to encounter clear skies is going to be in the eastern parts of New York and up through New England,” Masciulli said.

She said those in Texas could have visibility issues.

“If you’re in San Antonio, it’s looking like the trend is more overcast, but if you travel just a little bit more into the northeastern parts of Texas, you may have better chances,” she said.

Masciulli recommends checking the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center, which is issuing daily forecasts on cloud cover.

This satellite website shows the latest images of central and eastern parts of the U.S.

Back in Provo, the Sarkis’ are rooting for sunshine for families across the country

“You’re not buying the glasses per se, you’re buying the opportunity to participate in the experience of watching the eclipse, which you won’t get another opportunity until 2045,” Roger said.

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Provo family projected to sell half a million glasses for total solar eclipse