Last Minute iPhone Guide for the Eclipse Procrastinator [Updated]

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If you are like me, you knew about the solar eclipse that is upon us today, but maybe you didn’t think ahead and prepare in advance….also like me, Oops. I had assumed that we would have a welding hood around with adequate protection, but it turns out that wasn’t the case, and it was too late for me to get any special “eclipse glasses.” However, you might be able to find some enterprising local kids out selling the ones they bought up on a street corner, like I saw this morning. I applaud their entrepreneurial spirit!

However, there was no way I was putting down $20 or more per pair, and I am working today and can’t get a welding lens. I figured I would stream it on my iPhone like all the other procrastinators, while the real thing is happening outside. However, there are still a couple of things you can try, if you really want to get a look yourself.

Welding Lenses

I didn’t have the correct type at the house, but since this wasn’t an eclipse-specific item, you may still be able to find a level 12, 13 or 14 lens at a supply house today, if you move fast. I didn’t have time before work, but I know many kids got out of school and parents stated home today. Call your local hardware or welding supply house, and see if they have any. Just be sure you get at least a 12. While safe, this may be too bright for comfortable viewing, so a 13 or 14 are more highly recommended.

The Eclipse Selfie

Most of what I read leading up to the eclipse related to using the rear camera for higher quality photography of the event. The majority of those recommendations also included the use of a telephoto zoom accessory to bring the eclipse into closer view. If you do this, you MUST use a solar filter, or at least the same material these eclipse glasses are made from, to protect the lens of your iPhone. If not, you will likely damage your camera sensor, which Apple definitely won’t warranty. Also, if you are aiming your phone at the sun to frame your subject, you also have to have your own eye protection to be safe. That leaves us procrastinators right out.

However, Apple has clarified that the front-facing camera of the iPhone will NOT be damaged taking pictures of the eclipse before totality (or anytime if you are outside the narrow band where the event will completely block out the sun, like me). Because this camera is taking such a Wide-Angle shot, the radiation isn’t as focused on the lens because of that. This means that you can take a safe look at the event through your screen using the front-facing camera, and get a lower resolution memento of the eclipse.

If you do this without eye protection, just be safe and take your time. The glare off of your phone could be intense if you hold it at the wrong angle, so BE VERY CAREFUL if you do this. Also, despite the assurance from Apple, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your front-facing camera pointed at the event for long periods of time.

[Update- I went out ahead of time to see if I could put the Sun into the crosshairs without blinding glare, and I was unsuccessful. Even holding at angles it was too much. My screen protector is particularly reflective, and there was just no way to line it up without getting hit with that reflection. Maybe if you have a selfie stick and use trial and error you can pull it off, but not holding the phone in your hand.I would NOT recommend taking an “eclipse selfie” without proper eye protection after this. Your iPhone camera may be fine, but you could still hurt yourself eyes.]

However you view the eclipse, if you do at all, just be careful. Your phone can be replaced or camera repaired, but your need your eyes to last a lifetime.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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