As a beginner welder, you might have questioned if you can look at the sun through a welding helmet or not. The answer is yes. Looking directly at the unfiltered sunlight can damage your eyes and even cause permanent blindness in some cases. In some situations, sunglasses are not a sufficient protection. Looking at the sun through an approved solar filter would be recommended particularly if you are viewing a solar eclipse. A welding helmet would do the work.
Welding helmets have a filter that can make the sun look dim and protect your eyes from the infrared and ultraviolet radiations of the sun. Do not use polarized filters, sunglasses, X-ray film or neutral density filters for looking at the sun as they will probably melt when looking at the solar eclipse.
If you are looking at the solar eclipse, anything less than shade 14 will leave your eyes at the risk of permanent damage. Some people like capturing the beauty of the sun and if that’s you, make sure you view it through proper solar filters while taking photographs.
According to NASA, if you have an old welding helmet lying around the house and you are thinking of using it to view the sun, then make sure it has the right filter shade number. If it is anything less than 12, then don’t even think about using it to look at the sun. Shade 12 is too dark for most welding applications but many people still find the sun too bright for viewing through this filter. The people who have used shade 14 filter, on the other hand, found the sun too dim. NASA says that shade 13 filter would be just right for viewing the sun. The only problem is such filters are uncommon and they can be hard to find.
When gazing the sun, it is important to have your welding helmet on the entire time. Even a few seconds of exposure to the sun can damage your eyes. The solar radiation damages the light-sensitive rod and cone cells of your retina. Viewing the sun at dawn or dusk without a welding helmet is ok. But when it is a solar eclipse, then we are dealing with intense solar radiation and the position of the sun makes it dangerous as compared to its horizon at sunset or sunrise.
It is not safe to look at the eclipse through the ends of a telescope, binocular or camera since you don’t have solar filters. Even if you are wearing eclipse glasses behind the telescope or binoculars, your glass will melt. In such a situation, looking at the sun through these devices with naked eyes is more dangerous than naked eyes alone.
In short, when you are viewing the sun at a solar eclipse, you will need such glasses that can block the light and they do not fall apart when you are staring at the sun. In such a situation, having a best welding helmet would be a great idea.