Getting settled into the back-to-work grind after a weekend break is hard. On August 21st though, the typical Monday madness may literally have you running for the hills. Many star gazers and admirers living in a long stretch of the country from South Carolina to Oregon will head outside to witness a total solar eclipse, a planetary phenomenon of which we have not seen since 1979.

There are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun, including direct viewing. The American Astronomical Society recommends only using products that follow international safety standards. If you can’t get your hands on a pair of special eclipse-viewing glasses or just don’t want to spend the money, hack your smartphone!

Turn your back to the sun. Using the front-facing camera, watch the eclipse as if you were taking a selfie while in video-mode to see it happen in real-time. What’s cool about this trick is that you can record the eclipse and watch it again and again. Keep in mind that this does not work using the rear or main camera on your phone as you would need to face directly towards the sun. If you happen to have eclipse viewing glasses, it’s recommended to attach them to the lens of the camera while trying this, as this viewing method has not been widely tested. 

Remember, the only time that the sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a total eclipse, when the moon completely covers the sun. Outside of those approximately two minutes, it’s never safe to look at a partial eclipse without proper equipment and techniques as the sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays which can cause permanent damage to the eye. Even when 99% of the sun's surface is blocked during an eclipse, the remaining crescent is still intense enough to cause damage in the eye and vision loss.

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