Eclipse Glasses Sold Out in Advance of Sunday’s Solar Eclipse
Eclipse glasses at Amazon are currently unavailble as of Friday evening, May 18, 2012.
Credit: SPACE.com via Amazon

You probably won’t find eclipse glasses at your corner grocer or the local big box store. Ever. And right now, you’ll be hard pressed to find them anywhere.

With Sunday’s solar eclipse capturing the nation’s collective attention, eclipse glasses have been selling like crazy. The few outlets for them seem to be out.

The top Google search return for “eclipse glasses” is on Amazon, where  a notice has been posted saying, “Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.” Assuming it’s too late now to order online anyway, the best bet would be eye doctors or local science centers. But you might need a Black Friday shopping mentality to find a pair around any western town.

In Redding, Calif. a small city smack in the middle of the path for the annular solar eclipse (one of four solar eclipse types), the few places that stocked eclipse glasses sold hundreds of pairs quickly and at least one place scrambled to order more.

This NASA graphic of the  United States depicts the path of the annular solar eclipse of May 20, 2012, when the moon will cover about 94 percent of the sun's surface as seen from Earth.
This NASA graphic of the United States depicts the path of the annular solar eclipse of May 20, 2012, when the moon will cover about 94 percent of the sun's surface as seen from Earth.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Jane Houston Jones

"I think we had about 1,500 glasses on Monday and they were gone within about two hours after we opened," said Ashley Rich, patient services supervisor at Shasta Eye Medical Group in Redding, according to Redding.com, the web site for the local newspaper.

The Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center in Reno, Nevada sold out earlier this week and ordered another 10,000 pair, according to a local web site.

Looking as the sun without proper protection can damage your eyes. Sunglasses are NOT proper protection.

If you know a welder, you could be in luck. A safe substitute for eclipse glasses is No. 14 welder’s glass, used in goggles. There are also several clever ways to view the eclipse safely indirectly, including easy-to-make pinhole cameras and simply standing under a tree to look for dappled light that will reveal an image of the eclipse on the ground.

Editor's note: If you snap a great photo of Sunday's annular solar eclipse and would like it to be considered for use in a story or gallery, please send it to SPACE.com managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com

Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.