As the anticipated solar eclipse approaches, many people are making preparations to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. One of the most important preparations is selecting the right shade of lenses to protect your eyes from damage caused by the sun’s rays during the eclipse.
In this article, we will discuss the various shades of lenses available and help you choose the best option for safely viewing the solar eclipse.
Why do we need to wear special glasses during a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, blocking the sun from view. Although the event is beautiful to watch, it should be viewed with caution.
During a solar eclipse, the sun’s rays can cause permanent eye damage, even if you only glance at the sun for a few seconds. The sun emits a powerful amount of ultraviolet (UV) and infared (IR) rays which can cause various damages to the eyes, including a condition called solar retinopathy, which can lead to permanent loss of eyesight.
Therefore, it is essential to use proper shading lenses during a solar eclipse to avoid eye damage.
What shade lenses do I need for a solar eclipse?
Not all lenses are suitable for viewing the solar eclipse. It would help if you had specially designed glasses and lenses that can filter the sun’s harmful rays.
The recommended shade of lenses for safe solar eclipse viewing is shade 14, which provides complete protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
Shade 14 lenses are extremely dark and are not recommended for continuous use. They are only intended to be used for solar eclipse viewing.
It should be noted that any shade of lenses lower than 14 could be dangerous and may not provide adequate protection.
What other options do I have besides shade 14 lenses?
If you are unable to obtain Shade 14 lenses, the American Astronomical Society has provided a list of alternative safe filters, which includes:
1. Welding glasses or goggles with Shade 14 or higher lens. Ensure the glasses are labeled with the specification ANSI Z87.1.
2. a. Aluminized Mylar filters (of a thickness of 0.004 inches) that are specifically designed for solar eclipse viewing. These should be used over the front of any optical device, such as binoculars or telescopes.
b. If you plan to use Aluminized Mylar filters, ensure they contain no holes or scratches before using them. Damaged filters should not be used under any circumstances.
3. Pinhole viewers: These can be made easily at home using cardboard, paper, and a pin.
What should I avoid while selecting solar eclipse glasses?
Several substandard products that do not meet the standards for safe solar eclipse viewing are being sold in the market. While purchasing your solar eclipse glasses, you should be careful to avoid the following:
1. Glasses that claim they are suitable for viewing solar eclipses but do not provide details on the lenses shade.
2. Products that do not meet proper safety standards.
3. Solar glasses that have scratches, creases, or holes in them.
4. Homemade filters that are not made from approved materials.
5. Sunglasses of any shade, even darker ones are not suitable for solar eclipse viewing and should not be used.
6. Camera, telescopic or binocular lens, or smartphone filters without corresponding Eclipse Viewing Glasses.
How to test the shade of lenses before the solar eclipse?
Before the solar eclipse, you can check the safety of your glasses by using a simple test provided by NASA. With your solar eclipse glasses on, if you can see anything other than the sun, the lenses are not sufficiently dark and should not be used for viewing the eclipse.
Similarly, using not only glasses, but eye wear accessories like camera filters; however, NASA recommends testing just one lens to check compatibility with your camera and ensure the filter does not crack or fall off during the eclipse.
1. Can I look at a solar eclipse without any glasses?
No. Looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse can cause permanent eye damage and should never be done without adequate protection.
2. Can I use sunglasses instead of shade 14 lenses?
No. Standard sunglasses do not provide appropriate protection when viewing a solar eclipse.
3. Are there any alternatives to shade 14 lenses?
Yes, you can use welding glasses or goggles with shade 14 lenses or approved aluminized mylar filters or a pinhole viewer.
4. Can I make my solar eclipse glasses?
If you are knowledgeable about proper lens shading, it is possible to make your solar eclipse glasses. However, it is recommended that you purchase glasses or lenses from reputable sources to ensure your safety.
As you prepare to witness the solar eclipse, it is essential to take appropriate measures to protect your eyes from damage. Using shade 14 lenses, approved aluminized mylar filters, or pinhole viewers is necessary to view the solar eclipse safely. Ensure the glasses or lenses you purchase meet the relevant safety standards to avoid any serious repercussion. Remember to test your glasses before the event and never look directly at the sun.