What exactly is a solar eclipse, though, and how does it differ from the lunar eclipses we talk about every now and then?
According to the NASA website, "the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters such as "eclipse glasses" or hand-held solar viewers".
The eclipse's path of totality, a 70-mile-wide band on the ground where the sun is seen as totally blocked by the moon, cuts across much of the middle of the state on a centerline that leads from St. Joseph to Columbia and through Cape Girardeau.
"A total eclipse is such a rare occurrence, for many in the USA, this will be the first time in their life they can see one", said CNN Senior Meteorologist Brandon Miller.
- When millions of Americans turn their faces skyward to witness the nation's first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in a century, many will reach for specially designed sunglasses, but experts caution the public to stay clear of unsafe counterfeits.
Camp sites in OR have been winning at an auction for $500 a night, compared to the normal $28 a night, and some premium spots with unobstructed views are going for $2,000.
Join FOX 2 and KPLR 11 along with CBS Radio and St. Louis County Parks as we host a Total Eclipse Viewing Party at Jefferson Barracks Park.More news: Judge Dismisses School Sex Charges
Mike Reynolds, an astronomy professor at Floriday State College in Jacksonville, Florida, told LiveScience.com that it's best to outfit pets that will be out during the eclipse with protective glasses.
"Getting A Feel For Eclipses" is available for FREE, thanks to NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute and NASA Headquarters. Sometimes the moon is smaller and does not completely cover the sun, leaving a bright golden ring, an annular eclipse.
Many wild animals may mistake solar eclipses for twilight, McLendon wrote in MNN. While it's unlikely that your dog or cat will have a remarkable reaction to the Great American Eclipse, pet lovers might enjoy observing how animals in the wild or even the neighborhood do unusual things. This will include interviews with scientists and live panel questions, high-resolution sun images and a balloon launch.
Though some media reports have wrongly stated that NASA endorses eclipse viewers, government agencies are precluded by ethics regulations from backing particular products.
As the time approaches for the total solar eclipse on August 21, people preparing in all sorts of ways, whether that translates to ordering pairs of solar eclipse glasses to preparing for the end of the world.
"It's definitely not safe just to look at it with binoculars or a telescope", Bridges said.
As for what we can expect in our area: "It will be somewhat darker but the sun will still be visible", Hart said. And though animals don't necessarily know as humans do that a solar eclipse is coming, they "have enough common sense not to look at the sun during the solar eclipse".