Is it safe to photograph the solar eclipse with your smartphone?

Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points
Getty Images | Mark Kolbe

By now, you’ve likely heard about the total solar eclipse that will happen on August 21. It’s a momentous occasion that, understandably, has a lot of people excited. While experts have issued guidelines about how to safely view the eclipse, many are wondering about capturing the celestial event on camera.

If you were planning on having your smartphone at the ready to snap some photos, it turns out that it might not be the best idea. Experts have warned that you should never look directly at the sun during the event, and that includes inadvertent glances that might happen when you’re trying to take a picture. What’s more, you won’t know you’ve damaged your eyes because, due to the lack of pain sensors in the back of the eye, you won’t feel any pain.

solar eclipse photo
Getty Images | Ulet Ifansasti

“Their vision is more or less normal right until they go to bed. And it’s not until the next morning when the damage is actually showing its full effect. They wake up and realize, ‘Oh my lord, I can’t see anymore,’” Ralph Chou, an eclipse chaser and a professor emeritus of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, told TODAY.

Safety concerns aside, you’re unlikely to get a good shot anyway. If you point your camera phone directly at the sun, you’re going to end up with an overexposed blob, according to Ken Sklute, an eclipse photography expert from Canon.

smartphone eclipse photo
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

While leaving the photography to the experts and simply enjoying the eclipse in the moment might be the best option, if you absolutely must take a photo, Sklute recommends using a point-and-shoot camera with a solar filter to protect both the camera and your eyes, rather than using the camera on your phone. And no matter what, definitely don’t forget your viewing glasses.


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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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