So you’ve got yourself a laser, safety glasses and a set of fully charged batteries; you’re almost ready to get out there and see what your laser is capable of. But first, we want to go over some tips for using your laser outdoors. Many laser enthusiasts make the mistake of thinking outdoor use is safer than indoors, when in reality, it’s probably equally as dangerous.
If you’re using a laser indoors, one of your biggest concerns should be protecting yourself and those around you from stray reflections. This can easily be done with a quality pair of laser safety glasses that can cover not only the front, but also the sides of your eyes. A good pair of safety glasses will have side-shields (almost like horse blinders) to ensure that your eyes are fully-protected.
Safety glasses aren’t just for indoor use though. Anytime you’re operating a laser with more than 50mw of power, you must make sure that you and those around you have glasses on. That being said, a 5mw green laser pointer is more than powerful enough to get you in trouble…even outdoors. Here are some tips for using your laser pointer, whether high powered or not, in a safe manner while outdoors.
Safety Tips for Outdoor Laser Use
If you’re going to use a laser outdoors, there are some additional safety considerations you need to address, especially if the laser beam will be visible in the sky. Safety First The first rule for outdoor lasers, as with any high-power laser system is Safety First!
Contrary to popular belief, a powerful laser beam can travel many miles; it’s important to take that into account when planning your laser show. For example, a 1 watt red beam has an exit aperture of about 6mm and can easily travel over 5 miles (8 km), whereas a 2W green beam may have an exit aperture of 35 mm and still travel over 8 miles (13 km). A green beam from a 20W CO2 laser could potentially travel up to 30 miles (50km) before losing its power.
First off, you should select a green laser as green is more visible to the human eye. Red, violet and blue are also visible, but green is easier to see and can be used at a lower power while offering better visibility. A 5mw green laser can be anywhere from 5-10 times more visible than a 5mw red laser. Secondly, you should start off with a 5mw-50mw laser pointer as it’s got more than enough power to point things out while still being safe for use without glasses.
While many stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts use a high powered laser, such as a handheld or portable, it’s really not necessary. A dual-powered laser pointer is more than sufficient. The reason many will still use a high-powered laser is due to the visibility of the beam. So if you decide to use a laser more powerful than a pointer, make sure to take extra safety precaution and make sure everyone around you is wearing safety glasses.
Once you’ve decided on what laser you’ll use, it’s crucial to use follow our laser pointer safety tips. Since some of those glowing objects in the sky could potentially be aircrafts, it’s imperative to circle instead of point. Rather than simply pointing your laser directly at what you think might be a star, it’s best to circle the star instead – this will keep the beam moving and avoid lingering on a potential aircraft. Even a 5mw laser can be a serious hazard to pilots miles away.
With that said, don’t use your laser more than you need to. Once you’ve identified your star, constellation, planet or what-have-you, turn the thing off! Enjoy the peace and serenity of a clear night; just as people have been doing so for thousands of years before high powered lasers.
Say you’re not identifying stars or pointing your laser at the sky, there are still some basic guidelines and best-practices to keep in mind every time you use your laser.
- Use your laser and operate it in accordance with the laws within your state, territory or country.
- When carrying your laser or while not in use, make sure it’s completely deactivated and that the batteries have been removed.
- If using your laser for astronomy or stargazing, turn off the laser before pointing it downwards or away from the sky.
- Before activating your laser, check the area for people, animals or anything reflective.
- It’s a good idea to operate your laser above your head to lessen the likelihood of the beam making contact with your eyes.
- It should go without saying, but don’t point your laser at an living thing, moving vehicle or aircraft. Ever.
- When not using the laser, return it to its case. If there’s a shutter, lock or safety switch, make sure they’re all activated and that the laser is unarmed. Batteries should be removed as well.
- Cease use if you hear an overhead aircraft in the vicinity.
- Store your laser in a safe place away from children or anyone who might misuse the laser.
- Have fun and use common sense!
If you follow these simple rules, you can be sure that you won’t endanger any other people around you whilst using your laser.
When you’re using a laser, you want to enjoy yourself. But, you must make sure that you’re respecting others and ensuring that no one around you is effected by what you’re doing. Lasers are fun, but they can also be dangerous – especially when they are higher powered lasers, which are necessary for outdoors and nighttime use.