That's why there are special eclipse glasses (and handheld solar viewers) to protect your eyes. But now comes another problem.
Scammers looking to turn a quick profit are hawking "eclipse glasses" that don't really block enough of the sun's rays to make them safe. The American Astronomical Society said in an alert this week that some are even putting the logo of the real authorizing group (the International Organization for Standardization) on their fake eclipse glasses.
So if even the seal of approval has been ripped off, what do we do? Well, the astronomers say there are a dozen makers of the glasses and viewers that can be trusted and we should just stick with them.
These are the reputable solar filter brands
- American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com
- APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
- Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note]
- Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
- DayStar (Solar Glasses)
- Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
- Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
- Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
- Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
- Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
- Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
- TSE 17 (Solar Filter Foil)*
Note: Baader Planetarium's AstroSolar Safety Film and AstroSolar Photo Film, sold in the U.S. by Alpine Astronomical and Astro-Physics (see below), are not certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard and are not designed to work as eclipse shades or handheld solar filters. Baader's AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film, on the other hand, does meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standard for filters for eyes-only direct viewing of the Sun.
How much eclipse will we get?
There will be a total solar eclipse across a narrow band of the country, scientists say. NASA has detailed maps showing that area.
Here in Minnesota forecasters expect the sun will be about 75 percent hidden during the eclipse. There's also a tool that lets you look up your zip code to find the eclipse percentage where you live.
If you're planning a road trip to Nebraska or Missouri to experience the full eclipse, you'll actually be able to take off your glasses for the two or three minutes while the sun is fully obscured.
Not the rest of us, though. NASA says if even one percent of the sun is showing, it can burn your retina. And don't think about using regular sunglasses because they let through thousands of times too much sunlight.
One last note: to be sure you're getting real eclipse glasses, the astronomers say it's a good idea to get them from an actual store instead of ordering them online. There's a list of stores that sell the legit kind on this page.