MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The sight of a total solar eclipse is an event you can't miss, but your health and safety are very important.
Permanent eye damage or severe visual loss - even blindness - can happen by looking directly at the sun. This is good to remember, because on Aug. 21, millions will be looking to the sky for the first total solar eclipse in decades.
Dr. Louis Rubbo, an astronomy professor at Coastal Carolina University, said it's an experience you want to see, but not with your bare eyes.
"Looking at the sun by itself at any moment, even in partial eclipse, is never safe," Rubbo said.
He added you need special eclipse glasses to help protect your eyes. They're equipped with a filter that allows you to look directly at the sun.
"Sunglasses are definitely not good enough," Rubbo said. "These are special glasses that have a special material in here for protection."
Rubbo said you should wear the glasses during the entire eclipse, and he warns not to use them if you plan to operate other cameras or telescopes.
"However, these will not work with the combination of a camera or a telescope," he said. "Do not use these with a telescope or a camera. The focusing optics on those devices will actually burn through this material. There are special solar filters for your cameras and your telescopes, and they go on the front of your lens."
Rubbo said people planning to watch the eclipse should remember to protect not only their eyes, but their entire body.
"Totality for us is going to be around 2:40 in the afternoon, so it's going to be hot," he said. "Make sure you've got your water, your sunscreen on and all that as well."
Rubbo is one of several professors that will deliver talks about the total eclipse this month and the day before the Aug. 21 eclipse. For more information, click here.
As for where to get those glasses, Tidelands Health Hospital no longer has free pairs available.
Lubbo said you can get glasses online. He added you might want to hold onto your pair. The next eclipse is scheduled to happen in 2024, but you will have to travel to see it, as it will be seen from Texas up through New England.
For more information about eclipse safety, click here.