The One Solar Eclipse Viewing Hack You Just Need Your iPhone For

The solar eclipse is beginning to fall over the U.S., and if you're not prepared with your NASA-approved glasses, or your DIY eclipse viewer, you might be wondering if your trusty smartphone can help you out. But, can you safely look at the 2017 solar eclipse in selfie mode? The short answer is maybe. "Yes, you can. Selfie [mode] is fine," Jim Todd, the OMSI director of Space Science Education, told Oregon-based KOIN 6 News. "You are not looking at the sun in that fashion, and you are taking a snapshot really.”

However, like with anything, you still need to be smart about it, and not everyone agrees that it's safe. In a press release from Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Tongalp Tezel, a retina expert, said there is danger of reflecting ultraviolet light back into your eyes if you take a selfie with the eclipse in the background.

"Many people will think it’s safe to take a selfie with the eclipse in the background because they aren’t looking directly at the sun. What they may not realize is that the screen of your phone reflects the ultraviolet rays emitted during an eclipse directly toward your eye, which can result in a solar burn.”

Remember to look at your phone screen, and not at the sun if you don't have proper eclipse glasses, and don't try to take a selfie with the eclipse in the background. Sunglasses are not enough protection during an eclipse.

While selfie mode might help protect your peepers from sun damage, there is no guarantee. But, what about your phone? There's been a lot of speculation that pointing your smartphone at the sun during the eclipse could burn out your camera, just like looking at the sun without solar eclipse glasses can burn your retinas.

I have good news! "You could point your iPhone at the sun right now to take photos and the camera’s sensor and the lens would not be damaged," USA Today noted, citing a statement from Apple. "And the same is the case for the solar eclipse."

You should only try to photograph the eclipse if you have ISO-approved eclipse glasses. As far as viewing the eclipse in selfie mode, clearly, there is conflicting information about what's safe to do here. If you have any doubts, opt for one of these other DIY eclipse viewing options instead because, you only get one pair of eyes.