As August 21st's awesome solar eclipse draws nearer, it's a great time to get valuable basic tips on how to photograph this spectacle — even with your smartphone — from Fred Espenak, a.k.a. "Mr. Eclipse," during S&T's live webinar on Tuesday, April 25th.

Fred Espenak
Fred Espenak, who recently retired from NASA, has made a long career of chasing — and recording — total solar eclipses.

Excitement is building for August 21st's total eclipse of the Sun. But if you plan to photograph this celestial spectacle, don't wait until the last minute to figure out what to do. The time to start planning is now!

Capturing the eclipse can be tricky because you'll be working with a photographic subject that's likely unfamiliar to you (whether the Sun's disk itself or the fleeting appearance of its corona). And while the partial phases will last for hours, totality itself will come and go in less than 3 minutes.

Fortunately, you can get a crash course in basic eclipse photography during Sky & Telescope's upcoming live webinar with my longtime friend and colleague Fred Espenak, a.k.a. "Mr. Eclipse." He'll offer some time-tested advice along with little-known tricks that will help you capture the beauty and grandeur of the 2017 solar eclipse.

His live webinar on basic eclipse photography is Tuesday, April 25th, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, 23:00 Universal Time). It's $29.99 to participate (or to download afterward), but it will be well worth the cost.

During that hour, Fred will tackle everything from wide-angle photography with any camera (even smartphones) to shooting bracketed exposures to capture the Sun's inner, middle, and outer corona. You'll get tips on how to record the partial phases, the diamond-ring effect, and Baily's beads. He'll cover choosing the best range of exposures for your equipment shooting through telephoto lenses and telescopes, and much more.

2008's total solar eclipse
Here's the glorious solar corona, as recorded by Fred Espenak during the total solar eclipse on August 1, 2008.

For more advanced photographers, Fred will follow up this webinar with a second one next month to discuss advanced techniques time-lapse sequences and animation; how to automate eclipse photography with a laptop computer; and how to exploit a DSLR camera's "high dynamic range" (HDR) settings. Fred's advanced eclipse photography webinar will occur Tuesday, May 23rd, so be sure to sign up for that as well.

Best of all, during both of these tutorial sessions you'll be able to ask Fred questions!

Now, I can't guarantee that an hour spent with "Mr. Eclipse" will ensure perfect photos from the 2017 solar eclipse. But your chances of success will certainly improve! So please join Fred — and yours truly — as he shares the kind of expert training that you won't find anywhere else.

Again, the basic eclipse-photography webinar is Tuesday, April 25th, beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Click here to get more info and to purchase the webinar. I hope you can join us!