Can I Use a Welding Mask to Look at the Eclipse

You should consider yourself lucky if you have ever witnessed a solar eclipse. It’s extremely rare to see a total solar eclipse in one’s lifetime, and most people may never experience one. 

The reason to see an eclipse is not simply because it’s rare, but because of how it will make you feel. This kind of event puts you in touch with the cosmos, and you can feel the motion of the heavenly bodies and sense the vastness of our solar system. 

One of the challenges of viewing a solar eclipse is keeping your eyes safe. As a kid, your parents probably told you to keep your eyes away from the sun since the sun’s harmful rays can damage them. Likewise, a solar eclipse is also hazardous to your vision, so how can you view one safely?

If you wear a welding helmet as part of your job, you might wonder, “Can I use a welding mask to look at the eclipse?”. As a short answer, yes welding helmets can be worn to view solar eclipses. To get more details, read on further!

Using welding helmet to look at the eclipse

You’ve probably welded before if you own a welding helmet. In that case, you may be familiar with how bright welding sparks, flashes, and arcs can be. A welding helmet is recommended to prevent arc eyes that can result from the heated arcs.

As welding masks can protect your eyes from welding-related damage, shouldn’t they also be suitable for protecting your eyes when viewing an eclipse? That depends on the type of welding mask you are using.

The appropriate shade level

Welding helmets are available in several shades, and each shade level is listed by number. To see an eclipse, you need a shade that will shield your eyes while still allowing you to see the eclipse. 

NASA reports, as long as the shade level is at least 12, viewing a solar eclipse through a welding mask is considered safe. Shade 13 turns out to be too dark to observe an eclipse, which is why shade 12 is your best bet.

Recommendations from NASA

Although welding helmets can be used to view eclipses, NASA recommends using eclipse glasses that comply with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard. Do not use eclipse glasses unless they bear this safety standard printed on them.

Furthermore, NASA cautions not to use any equipment older than three years. Consequently, if you’re not sure how old your welding mask is, or which shade it is, it would be better not to risk your eyesight. 

Final thoughts

Observing a solar eclipse is a truly spectacular and rare phenomenon. I highly recommend that you plan for and take time to see one in person if you ever get the chance.

If you want to see the eclipse, a welding mask might be your best option. However, be sure to look for a mask that’s less than three years old and has a shade level of at least #12.

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