When the sun goes dark: 5 questions answered about the solar eclipse

CBS News  Leonard Bates    CBS News Leonard Bates

You will also need to use solar filter on cameras, binoculars and telescopes and don't use eclipse glasses to look through them.

Eclipse viewing glasses also will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis on the library plaza, the news release said.

"Folks in eastern North Carolina are going to get about a 90 percent obscuration of the sun by the moon depending on how close you are to the path of totality".

The Great American Eclipse of August 21 is fast approaching and so this seems like a good time to discuss safe viewing options.

On Aug. 21, the first total eclipse of the sun in the US since 1979 will sweep across the country from OR to SC, with the rest of the country witnessing a partial eclipse.

In Madison on Friday, the glasses were sold out at Kirkland's on the Far East Side and at Toys R Us on the Far West Side. And luckily, Best Buy has yet to run out of solar eclipse glasses that are advised to properly see the eclipse safely.

"This is historical, and I would encourage everyone to see it", said Nathan Podoll, M.D., assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). And a two-pack at Casey's General Store in Verona could be had for $2.99.

Some libraries and elementary schools are giving away approved glasses for free.

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Optometrists say looking directly at the eclipse can cause permanent blindness so make sure you wear a pair of solar eclipse glasses.

Nashville is the largest city in the path of the eclipse, and specialists at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute want to ensure that eclipse watchers across Middle Tennessee keep an eye on safety while viewing the astronomical event. The sun will reach its maximum coverage about 1:20 p.m. and stay that way for nearly three minutes. The sun's corona, or top layer, is only visible during a total solar eclipse.

"The market is being flooded with counterfeits", he said.

To ensure safety, the American Astronomical Society is now recommending people buy their eclipse glasses from one of the vendors on its curated list. "We have completely revolutionized our understanding of the lunar surface, its environment and how the moon changes on human time scales".

Check the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers link, https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters, for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that are verified to comply with ISO 12312-2, worldwide safety standard for these products.

"There's no reason to panic if you don't have eclipse viewers themselves", he said. Sunglasses, even dark ones, aren't safe for looking at an eclipse.

Charlotte's Billie Jean Shaw called and visited more than 20 businesses across York County, all say they are sold out of the solar eclipse glasses.

Here's how NASA describes the indirect pinhole method: "Cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern".