CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Most of us have probably not even though twice about getting our cell phones out on Monday, August 21 to take a pic of the eclipse, but will it damage your phone if you do?
NASA has been the foremost authority on all things eclipse so it comes as no surprise they are also answering this question. The warning has been repeated over and over not to look at the eclipse without specialty glasses because doing so can damage your eyes. And no sunglasses are not safe to use because they do not block enough of the bright light when looking directly at the sun. But what about taking a pic of the eclipse?
The answer to this may discourage you from even trying to take a pic of the eclipse with your phone in the first place. Keep in mind you will only have about two-and-a-half minutes when the eclipse is at its peak so you may want to just experience the eclipse, with safety glasses, instead of trying to take a pic. NASA uses this picture as an example of what an eclipse in 2015 looked like taken from a smartphone.
As you can see it does not photograph very well. It may have something to do with the fact that the sun is 92.96 million miles away from Earth. Think about any time you've tried to take a pic of a beautiful moon with your phone and it also doesn't turn out very well and the moon is only 238,900 miles from the earth.
There is a lot of debate out there and the general answer seem to be no, it will not damage your phone as long as your only taking pics for a short period of time. In a recent article from NASA, it advises, "The basic argument in favor of it being safe for the camera is that the lenses are generally very small (2 millimeters or so) and do not admit enough light. Also, cameras come equipped with UV filters that cut down on some of the visible light landing on the sensor chip. Finally, they automatically set their exposures for very short times."
There are several options out there of telephoto lenses that clip on your smartphone and allow you to zoom in a lot further than the option on the phone itself. In these cases NASA puts out a very bold warning. "This is potentially very dangerous. Only during totality when there is absolutely NO solar disk present and the corona is fully visible can you use the unfiltered telephoto attachment safely. Once the solar disk begins to appear you cannot use the telephoto unless it is properly filtered or you run the risk of shining concentrated sunlight on the camera imaging sensor and potentially damaging it."
If you are going to use a telephoto lens when the sun is still very visible you will need to buy what's known as a solar filter to protect your phone's camera.