Where to look for last-minute solar eclipse glasses (plus safety tips)

Where to find last-minute solar eclipse glasses
Posted at 7:36 AM, Aug 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-21 11:50:03-04

Trying to catch the total solar eclipse today, but haven't found the time to pick up your glasses? Below is a list of stores who've said they're selling ISO-compliant, safe eclipse glasses:

  • HyVee (some locations sold out)
  • Union Station
  • Menards (reportedly sold out)
  • 7-Eleven
  • Best Buy
  • Casey’s General Store
  • Hobby Town
  • Kroger grocery stores
  • Love’s Travel Stops
  • Lowe’s
  • McDonald’s
  • Pilot/Flying J
  • Toys “R” Us
  • Walmart

Make sure to call the location you plan to stop by, just in case they've sold out or didn't participate! There's been a run on the glasses, and many vendors have totally sold out

The Kansas City Public Library has confirmed they do not have any glasses, despite reports.  

You can check out the American Astronomical Society's list of reputable brands here

CHART | When will the eclipse pass over my city? 

Monday, the best total solar eclipse in 40 years will make its way across the United States, carving a 70-mile wide path from Oregon to South Carolina. Most of the rest of the country will see at least 75 percent of the sun obscured, but only those in the path of totality will see the rare 100 percent blackout. 

It's not a myth: Staring directly at the sun for any amount of time will damage your eyes, so using protective equipment is crucial.

Specially-made glasses/solar viewer

One of the easiest ways to safely watch the eclipse is to use a handheld solar viewer or glasses that are specially made for that purpose. The American Astronomical Society recommends products made by Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics or Thousand Oaks Optical.

Just make sure whatever glasses/viewers you use are ISO-certified, so you know they meet international standards for safety. Sunglasses are NOT dark enough and you WILL damage your eyes by staring at the sun with only sunglasses on. Eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than sunglasses.

Solar filters

If you’re planning to take photos of the eclipse or view it through a telescope or binoculars, you’ll need a solar filter (note that a polarizing filter is not good enough). This will protect both your eyes and the lenses in your device. Make sure you follow the directions included with your filter and never use a filter that’s been damaged or scratched.


You don’t have to look directly at the sun to watch the eclipse. There are several projection methods that will make it possible for several people to safely view the eclipse at once. The pinhole method involves poking a small hole in a piece of paper or card stock and then placing another piece of paper or card a few inches away at a parallel angle. The image of the sun should appear on the unaltered piece of paper.

You can achieve a similar effect using binoculars or a telescope to project the sun onto a sheet of paper or card stock. Just make sure nobody looks through the telescope/binoculars at the sun.

Can I use my smartphone?

According to NASA, there’s some debate about whether the bright rays of the sun will damage a smartphone camera. Most photographers agree that brief exposure to the sun should be fine, since smartphone cameras are generally very small and automatically adjust the exposure and other settings to limit how much sunlight will get in.

Just be aware that phone cameras are not made for taking pictures of objects in the sky and therefore won’t get very good pictures. The sun will be very small and probably blurry, so if you want to take photos, you should use a larger, professional-style camera.

NASA has more tips for using a phone camera here.

What about a welding helmet?

A welding helmet will work for safely viewing the eclipse as long as you can ensure the helmet is fitted with a filter that is dark enough. Filters made for gas welding or cutting are not dark enough to protect your eyes. According to the AAS, filters with shade numbers 12 to 14 should be dark enough, though some might find a number 12 filter to be too bright.

CU Boulder’s Fiske Auditorium has a wealth of additional information on the eclipse on its website here.