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Everyone knows what happens when you look into the sun too long.

Now imagine staring at the sun while those searing rays converge into a laser-like beam through the lens of a camera. It would be like focusing a magnifying glass on your eyeball.

That's part of the dilemma facing photographers who want to shoot Sunday's "ring of fire" solar eclipse, which will grace the nighttime skies beginning at about 6:20. The eclipse can be viewed in its full "annularity," when the moon best covers the sun, from anywhere between Cedar City and St. George.

Just putting a regular filter in front of the camera lens won't work. Remember, the sun's rays will be concentrated when they hit the film or digital sensor and likely will fry the camera.

The other problem is if you use a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, in which what you see through the viewfinder is what the lens sees, the sun could literally burn your eye while trying to photograph it.

Astronomers say the best option is to get a "Baader" solar film, a filter used for optical telescopes to view the sun. They can be placed in front of the camera (never put the filters behind the lens) to protect both the sensor or film and your eye. They are sold for as little as $13, but at this late stage you'll likely also pay a lot more in one-day shipping.

Some believe a "shade 14" welder's lens, the same filtered glass used on the front of a welder's helmet, can be used. As a result, industrial supply shops such as Airgas in Salt Lake County have been selling the pieces of glass like hotcakes this week for about $3 apiece.

"We've sold everything we've had and re-ordered more," Airgas sales representative Bruce Jensen, "We've been selling the heck out of them."

While it's fine to use a welder's lens to watch the eclipse with the naked eye, it doesn't work as well for photography because it tends to produce multiple images in the picture, Clark Planetarium director Seth Jarvis said.

You could use the same paper glasses the planetarium is selling for the eclipse for the front of a camera, though they may be too small to cover the front of a lens big enough for shooting the eclipse.

People shouldn't even try to shoot the eclipse with camera phones or point-and-shoot cameras because the lenses are too small and would produce tiny images, said Patrick Wiggins, NASA/JPL solar system ambassador to Utah. He recommends using at least a 500 millimeter lens or longer (the focal length or how far you can see with the lens).

Freelance photographer Jimmy Urquhart, who is photographing the eclipse for Reuters, has been experimenting with shooting it with three to six layers of "neutral density" filters taped in front of his camera. These filters, which you can buy at a photography store in larger sheets, normally are used to cover studio lights.

"A lot of us [photographers] are trying to figure out how to do this and are sharing results," he said.

While he has produced decent images so far, Urquhart said he still doesn't know if using the neutral density filters will prevent damage to his camera. And he's definitely not looking through the viewfinder while he shoots the sun because they are not good enough to protect his eyes.

"I can't tell anybody this is the right way to go," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to blow up my camera during this assignment."

Unless you actually buy a Baader filter in time, Clark Planetarium's Jarvis says there's not really much else you can do.

"If you're a photographer and you haven't made your plans, then don't worry about it," he said. "Think about photographing the eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21, 2017. That will be a total eclipse of the sun, and it will be amazing."

Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi —

Ring of fire eclipse

Starting at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday, the moon will move in front of the sun, causing an annular solar eclipse, often called a ring of fire eclipse, in southwest Utah. Along the Wasatch Front, viewers can see a deep partial eclipse, which will cause the sun to look like a crescent. The sun will be in full "annularity," when the moon best covers the sun, for four minutes at 7:31 p.m. as viewed from a vantage with a low horizon between Cedar City and St. George.

SLC viewing locations

The Gateway fountain • 450 W. South Temple

Salt Lake Library Square • 200 E. 500 South

U. of U. South Physics Observatory • 125 S. 1400 East

Salt Lake County

Dimple Dell Recreation Center • 10600 S. 1000 East in Sandy

Weber County

Weber State University observatory • 1551 Edvalson St. in Ogden

Iron County

Kanarraville • "Sweet spot" is Spring Creek Road, the primary viewing site until full

Cedar City • Discovery Park/Cedar Middle School, Ashcroft Observatory

West of Cedar City • Highway 56

Parowan Gap • Program, including a guided tour of lunar petroglyphs and a short hike to equinox Kairn, will begin at 7 p.m. at the Kiosk

Mountain locations (pending access) • Brian Head Peak; Brian Head Resort (Giant Steps $8 for Sky Lift Ride, weather permitting); Point Supreme (Cedar Breaks National Monument, no services)

National Parks • These will have programs and activities: Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges National Monument

Source • Seth Jarvis, Clark Planetarium; Patrick Wiggins, NASA/JPL solar system ambassador —

Pre-eclipse party

Speakers will discuss why the annular eclipse occurs and how to safely view it. Safety viewing glasses for the following day's event will be distributed for free and activities range from decorating cookies to learning about the phases of the moon to building mini rockets.

When • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 19

Where • Aquatic Center at the Hills, 2090 W. Royal Hunter Drive, Cedar City

Cost • Free