Even without a special solar filter or eclipse glasses, your camera may have captured Monday's solar eclipse in an unexpected way.

I was perusing Facebook last night, reviewing the never-ending onslaught of eclipse photos from friends across the state and across the country. A popular photo option was the #EclipseSelfie, using the front-facing camera on a smartphone to capture the solar eclipse without looking directly at the sun. I took one too, and ended up using it as the feature photo on my post-eclipse weather blog. I was disappointed by the brightness of the sun, despite the fact that my photo was taken near the peak of the eclipse.

And then I noticed something in my photo.

And then I noticed the same thing in Bill Spadea's photo.

And then I started catching the same optical phenomenon in almost every unfiltered eclipse photo I could find.

Look carefully at the little speck of reflection in each photo. That little crescent shape look like anything to you? It's the eclipsed sun! The image is reflected on the lens of the camera, so it appears backwards (and upside-down too, I think?) I suspect the blur-factor and color of the reflection relates to the type and settings of the camera lens, glass, etc. Where the speck appears in the photo depends on the angle of the camera/phone to the sun.

So if you were disappointed by your own solar eclipse photos, I encourage you to go back and see if they captured the solar-lunar ballet after all!

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist and Senior Forensic Photo Analyzer for Townsquare Media New Jersey. When he's not staring at little dots on people's photos, he's posting the latest forecast and realtime weather updates on Facebook and Twitter.

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