Solar eclipse can blind unprotected eyes. What will it do to your cell phone camera?

Solar eclipse can blind unprotected eyes. What will it do to your cell phone camera?

CHARLOTTE, NC (Bruce Henderson/The Charlotte Observer) - You surely know, after heaps of warnings, not to watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse without heavily filtered glasses.

But what about those inevitable selfies with the sun? Advice for the most photographed event of the year isn't so clear.

NASA itself debates whether smartphone photos of the eclipse can damage the phone's camera.

Some photographers argue that the tiny lens is too small to admit damaging light to the sensor, and that the cameras automatically set exposures for very short times. Others note that recent cameras come with bigger, faster lenses.

Members of Slooh watched and captured the total solar eclipse from Indonesia on March 8, 2016. Slooh is a community observatory dedicated to bringing astronomy from the stars to screens, according to representatives. It regularly live broadcasts meteor showers to solar eclipses to advances in space exploration. Members were there for the total solar eclipse and had a live broadcast on YouTube

There's also the danger of inadvertently hurting your eyes by simply pointing your phone toward the sun, the space agency says.

"The best thing to do is to cover the camera lens with a solar filter during the moments before (and after) totality when the sunlight is still blinding. This will eliminate sun glare blooming and give you a clear image of the solar disk," NASA says. Eclipse glasses will do.

iPhone maker Apple begs to differ.

For most viewers, the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes.

Most smartphone photos show a wide-angle view, of which the sun will be a very small part, Apple tells USA Today. Pointing an iPhone at the sun – even during the eclipse – won't damage its camera sensor or lens, the company says.

Just make sure to protect your own eyes first with certified eclipse glasses.

Photographing the eclipse with a non-smartphone camera also requires more care to protect the user. Solar filters must be placed over the outer element of telephoto lenses, telescopes or binoculars.