Does this smartphone photo show Mars just below the Sun?

  • I live in Essex, England (51.7678° N, 0.0878° E). On 25 July 2019 (hottest day ever in the UK, btw), 06:43 BST, I took this smartphone photo of the Sun. Is that white dot just below and left of the Sun the planet Mars? I've checked with my SkySafari app and it looks like it could be Mars, but I'm just surprised that my relatively cheap phone could take a picture of the planet. Although the photo is quite dark, it was a bright day. Thank you.



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  • Tim

    Tim Correct answer

    2 years ago

    That is a camera artefact caused by the bright sunlight reflecting within the lens on your phone. It’s more pronounced than on a large camera because of the small lens size. This is a secondary image of the sun, as the brightness of the source allows for the reflection to be still intense enough to be detected.



    Here is a photo I took with the same artefact. It appears for me as a cyan dot with a magenta outside, but other photos I’ve taken have one with the same colour as the sun.





    Notice if you zoom in on yours, there’s a halo around the artefact as well.



    Also notice that the artefact is directly below the sun in my image, whereas in yours it’s slightly to the left. However, this is because in your image the sun is slightly to the right, and hitting the lens at an angle.



    As uhoh says, you can see that the sun is the same distance from the centre of the image as the lens flare (or very close to):





    It should be possible to take a photo with the artefact wherever you want, by re-angling the phone - including inside the sun, where it will be drowned out.



    I actually took my phone into an Apple Store to find out what this was, where they explained the lens flair effect. Unfortunately I don’t have a source for this, as it was in person. Hopefully the above is convincing enough.


    `I actually took my phone to Apple to find out what this was` how much did it cost?

    @whatever nothing

    Actually, your "Mars dot" is distinctly to the left, too -- look at where the bright rays converge.

    @DavidRicherby yes, you’re right it is slightly to the left, just less noticeably. I think it would still match up as equal distances from the centre

    +1 for the axis on the final image showing the relation to the sun, which helps explain what lens flare is (a reflection).

    You're right. I took a couple of photos of the Sun today, about midday, and there was the same bright spot in both of them, diametrically opposite the Sun. I was convinced my original white spot was Mars; especially given it was more or less where Mars would be.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM