Viewing a solar eclipse can damage the eyes permanently but harm can be avoided if one is willing to apply proper protection that can block out direct exposure from rays of the sun.
The use of a reliable welding mask can provide adequate protection if certain implications are considered.
What’s the draw?
A solar eclipse occurs when part of the Earth is engulfed in a shadow cast by the Moon, which fully or partially blocks sunlight. This occurs when the Sun, Moon and the Earth are aligned. Such an incident indicates that the Moon is closest to the ecliptic plane.
According to Timeanddate.com “between two and five solar eclipses occur every year, each one visible only in a limited area”.
The occurrence of a total eclipse is even more uncommon as mentioned in the book “Astronomy” by authors H.N. Russell, R.S. Dugan, and J.Q. Stewart. “A total eclipse happens at any given station only once in about 360 years.”
The manifestation of a solar eclipse is rare which is the reason why so many are drawn to view this abnormal occurrence.
Why do I need protection?
It is common knowledge to not stare directly at the sun but staring in the direction of the sun becomes even more of a risk to the eyes during a solar eclipse.
The reason for this is that the dark phase of the eclipse causes the pupil to dilate so that it can let in more light. When the sun suddenly appears from behind the moon, the pupil is directly exposed, and the power of the sun is much more than the human eye can handle.
Experts suggest that the transition of the sun during an eclipse can expose the eye to unforeseen rays and this can scorch the retinas.
Is your welding mask adequate?
Misleading and incorrect information is often distributed regarding the type of eye-protection that should be used while watching an eclipse. Certain welding masks under the right conditions can work to protect your eyes from intense glares. For optimal protection, it is best to choose a mask with a higher shade level.
According to NASA, a mask with a shade of 13 is best for blocking harmful UV rays from damaging the eyes as a shade of 12 provides too weak of a filter and a shade of 14 is too dark to allow adequate vision.
Welding masks with a shade 13 filter are not easy to find yet when you select a modern version or one with an adjustable filter level, you can assure yourself the availability of adequate shading.
If you are using an auto darkening welding mask, make sure to increase the sensitivity and lower down the delay. This should give you the best transition to a higher shade level.
What the experts say
- Avoid using homemade filters as these might not offer the required protection while viewing the eclipse.
- Avoid using ordinary dark glasses for viewing the solar eclipse.
- Only use equipment or glasses that are certified for viewing the solar eclipse.
- Make sure your welding helmet is rated highly from shade 12 to shade 13.
- Make sure your viewing glasses (if you choose to use them) have certification information and ISO 12312-2 international standard.
- Avoid looking at the eclipse for too long.
More Tips to Ensure Proper Protection
- Check for Proper Coverage– Make sure there is no damage, scratches, or cracks in the viewing window. Your mask should provide complete protection from the rays of the sun.
- Test Your Method of Viewing– Put the mask on properly and make sure it is over your face before looking at the sun.
- Do not remove your welding helmet while you are viewing the eclipse.
- Make sure to turn your face away from the sun before removing your mask or helmet.
- If you wear glasses, you should wear the mask over your glasses.
- Avoid using any kind of binoculars or telescope with the welding mask.
- Avoid looking at the eclipse for too long.
- Make sure you are wearing your welding mask before looking at the eclipse.
- Avoid using equipment older than three years while viewing the solar eclipse.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Am I better off using solar eclipse glasses or a welding mask when viewing the next eclipse?
Answer: NASA recommends that consumers only use eclipse glasses with ISO 12312-2 printed on them that have been printed by the four following companies: American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17. NASA suggests that buying your eclipse glasses on Amazon will not ensure their safety.
A welder’s helmet can be bulky and uncomfortable, but a modern and reliable version accompanied with a shade that is higher than 12, can provide adequate protection from potentially harmful UV Rays. Experts suggest it is extremely important that you inspect your welding mask adequately and that you follow necessary steps to ensure safety.
How do you test a welding mask?
Answer: Glance towards the sun and slowly move your hands in front of your face. Continue to look carefully. Since your hands are moving, your welding mask should still be registering the light. Hence, your lenses should remain dark
How do I know if my welding mask is bad?
Answer: The most obvious indicator that your welding mask is not working will be if you develop eye fatigue. Eye fatigue is usually the result of too much light being passed through the lens. Eye fatigue can manifest itself through pain in the eyes, headaches, blurry vision, and/or double vision.
Do auto darkening masks go bad?
Answer: The lifespan of the non-replaceable battery is approximately 7 years, its disadvantage is that once the battery wears off, the lens doesn’t work. The auto darkening helmet with a replaceable battery and solar assist is a better investment because the panel allows you to use the product right away.
It is extremely important to make safety a priority if you plan on viewing a solar eclipse. If you seek to go forth on viewing such an event through a welding mask, you should take all necessary precautions and make sure that your mask is in good condition. Still it is important to note that not all welding masks are created equal.
If you have any doubts about the type of equipment you should use for viewing the eclipse, you should consult an expert astronomer for better guidance.