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Solar eclipse is only enjoyable safely – welding glasses to the rescue!

Solar eclipses are not as rare as people think. One is going to happen this August, but it is going to be visible only in a small part of United States. However, in 2019 another total solar eclipse is going to be visible in South America and another, partial one, in Asia. In fact, there will be 10 solar eclipses until April 2024, six of which are going to be total. So you should know proper ways of seeing it.

Solar eclipses are not as rare as people imagine, but they cover small areas in the world. Image credit: Luc Viatour via Wikimedia

People usually do a big mistake, thinking that dark plastic, such as photographic film, enables you to look directly into the sun without suffering damage. This is not true. In fact, it may even make it worse. Dar plastic will trick your eyes into thinking it is actually dark outside and your pupils will expand, allowing more of harmful UV rays to enter your eyeballs. The same can be said about sunglasses – while they do stop some UV rays, they are not meant for people to look at the sun.

There are special telescope filters, allowing people to look at the sun indirectly. Essentially, people just look at the reflection of the sun, which is not as bright, because the filter takes off the edge. There are other devices, such as camera obscura, which is easy to make at home. Pinhole projectors are also a good option and require nothing else, but some cardboard and paper. However, if you have an access to welding glasses, they may offer you a better option.

Welding glasses block most of the light, because arcs of welding are so bright they would totally damage person’s eyes. Looking directly at the sun with welding glasses is like looking at the object about twice as bright as the Moon – really not bright at all. Of course, it is still ill-advised to look at the sun for prolonged periods of time, but a quick peek should not hurt you.

Cody don Reeder, a creator of a popular YouTube channel Cody’s lab, recently showed his eclipse viewing gear. And, of course, it is welding glasses. However, he made sure to seal their edges, so that sunlight would not find its way around the glasses. This would cause glare and would somewhat interfere with the experience. And, as is typical with Cody, he decided to walk with these glasses for longer, just to see if he can get used to them.

It is basically like walking in moonlight, so some smaller details are harder to see. Cody used a torch to be able to read and see the buttons on his phone. So for a solar eclipse this setup is good enough.

Don’t forget to be careful. Damage to your eyes could be irreversible if you decide to look at the sun directly. Eclipse should be enjoyable and not send you to the hospital.

 

Source: Exploratorium, Cody’s lab

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