View Full Version here: : Legality of Solar Filter eyepieces in Oz?

23-09-2006, 09:27 AM
Hi all,

I've seen the sticky thread here, Dangerous Eyepiece Filter? (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=934), so I understand all the reasons why Solar Filter EP's are a bad thing when used improperly, and that for safety reasons they should be legislated against in Australia.

But I can't find the legislation. Can anyone steer me towards the relevant Australian federal (or states of NSW and QLD) legislation? Acts and sections, hyperlinks if possible?


23-09-2006, 09:48 AM
will lok into it at work on monday...

ving the librarian.:)

23-09-2006, 09:48 AM
oh, where have you looked?

have you tried austlii?

23-09-2006, 10:18 AM
Sitting here over my morning coffee, I've only managed to find one reference to this in legislation:


GG No 140 of 2.9.1988, p 4618 (Eye piece focal length sun filters for use with telescope). Revoked, GG No 105 of 1.9.1995, p 6141.

GG is Government Gazette. The two referred to above do no appear to be online.

Note: This was a quick search through austlii and is by no means definitive

23-09-2006, 11:26 AM

No, I haven't got any kind of legal background so I wasn't aware of AustLII (http://www.austlii.edu.au/). Seems like the place to look, though. I've been limited to the normal search engines like Googs and Yah so far.

This question came about because the sticky thread fired a few neurons regarding my recent search for a new scope. I'd come across one place in NSW apparently selling solar filter EP's as part of two scope packages and another place in QLD apparently selling them as stand alone items. I wanted to know the ins-and-outs of it all before I approached them about it.


23-09-2006, 12:23 PM
This happens occassionly. I dont think the people who are selling these
probably do not know the dangers of this style of filter or even know it is
illegal to sell such things in Australia. So be careful how you approach them.

Who's selling them?



23-09-2006, 01:01 PM
I am trying to be careful to determine the legality/illegality of them first - I don't want 1,000 angry IIS members harassing them if solar eyepiece filters are in fact *not* illegal in Australia. So far all I've got is a few people in the sticky thread saying that they are, but I can't find any evidence to prove it. I think that they should be, purely from a safety aspect, but thoughts and laws don't always coincide.

Once I've determined that they are illegal, I'll approach the places privately. If still no joy then I'll report them to the relevant Consumer Affairs, name them on IIS and let the angry hordes loose.

23-09-2006, 01:38 PM
Actually I was more wanting to see what it is you are talking about. Noticing
your in your signature "Astronomy noob to the max" and wondered if you
knew what your were actually looking at. However that being said, I'm more
in fear of the original distributor (if this is infact the same) has repackaged
and flogging it another way. If so, then this distributor is in big trouble.

If your not going to tell us who it is at least show the avertising picture
you can rant onto the the seller all you like it will be the distributor that
needs the slapping. That's why I said be careful how you approach them.
THIS has been an issue here before. And I dont remember any member
being apart of angry hordes. It was dealt with by one person

23-09-2006, 01:48 PM
i am with Xrekor on this, show us a picture of what your speaking about. So that we can clarify that it is infact a solar EP filter.

A solar EP filter is dangerous, still not sure why such a thing is made when its known to fail.


23-09-2006, 02:08 PM
That's a fair deal... see attached images taken from their web pages.

23-09-2006, 02:25 PM
Often you find that Sun filter is listed on the box/adverts or in the instructions but there is none in the box. Newts at Dick Smith are sold like that. I expect they remove the Sun filter not out of informed concern for the consumer but because they are illegal.

23-09-2006, 02:32 PM
gee there pretty loose with the description there, that second page mentions
>>,moon and sun , << together regarding a filter

24-09-2006, 08:11 AM
I'm not going to be thanking you, snowyskiesau, for bypassing my intent by naming one of the sites.

You have proven, however, how easy it can be to find information on the internet. There are plenty of references around regarding the ban of the "Autotrend sun filter" for cars, for example, including Customs (Prohibited Imports) Amendment Regulations 1999 (No. 8) (http://frli.law.gov.au/s97.vts?action=View&VdkVgwKey=1999B00338&Collection=FRLI&ViewTemplate=frliview.hts) and the Product Safety Policy Review (http://www.consumersonline.gov.au/downloads/product.pdf), but I can't find a mention of solar/sun filters for eyepieces and telescopes except for the apparently-rejected/revoked piece of the NSW Fair Trading Act, 1987 (http://www.austlii.edu.au//cgi-bin/disp.pl/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/fta1987117/notes.html?query=sun%20filters) you found via AustLII.

I've been searching for legislation banning solar/sun eyepiece filters for several days now, using regular search engines as well as the more-specialized ones like AustLII (http://www.austlii.edu.au/)and FRLII (http://www.frli.gov.au/comlaw/comlaw.nsf/standardsearch?OpenPage). If this legislation exists it doesn't want to be found. At the moment I'm believing that it doesn't exist - please, somebody, prove me wrong!

24-09-2006, 03:11 PM
hi again deimos,

it may very well be that its not a act or legislation you are after but a standard... have you tried the standards australia website?

anyhow i'll look tomorrow if i get a chance :)

24-09-2006, 07:42 PM
It's possible. Thanks, ving, I'll expand my search in case you don't get the chance tomorrow. :)

24-09-2006, 11:53 PM
As pointed out if you search you can easy find reference to desriptions like this
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/NEW-150mm-x-750-EQ-III-COMMANDER-ASTRONOMICAL-TELESCOPE_W0QQitemZ120033291164QQih Z002QQcategoryZ3636QQrdZ1QQcmdZView Item
contains same wording "Sun Filter" no warning...

25-09-2006, 03:33 PM
I don't understand the need to keep the dealer's identity secret. If they were actually selling these filters knowing they are dangerous they need to cop some flak. If it's just a misunderstanding, all good and well.


25-09-2006, 03:56 PM
they sure are dangerous tony, but i havent yet found a legal document stating they are illegal and I have been searching. there is an australian standard dealing with lenses and filters but i havent read it yet all the way thru and so couldnt say for sure that it pertains directly to solar filters. this is not to say that nothing exists, i am not an expert.

I certainly wouldnt like to be taken to court for defamation should the seller catch wind of people slamming his/her otherwise good name on a public forum.
without proof one could probably find themseles in this situation and it would be linked to this forum... i am sure we dont want that unless we have our facts absolutely straight hey.
there is of course the chance that they would do nothing at all or even never find the posts relating to them :)

25-09-2006, 04:17 PM
Nowhere on those ads does it say that the sun filter is eyepiece-end (ie 1.25" or 2") . You could infer it maybe due to the way the ads are worded, but I'd be wary of inferring anything written on one of these boxes.


25-09-2006, 05:45 PM
Eye Safety During Solar Eclipses
B. Ralph Chou, MSc, OD
Associate Professor, School of Optometry, University of Waterloo

Solar filters designed to thread into eyepieces that are often provided with inexpensive telescopes are also unsafe. These glass filters can crack unexpectedly from overheating when the telescope is pointed at the Sun, and retinal damage can occur faster than the observer can move the eye from the eyepiece.
It is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper equipment and techniques. Even when 99% of the Sun's surface (the photosphere) is obscured during the partial phases of a solar eclipse, the remaining crescent Sun is still intense enough to cause a retinal burn, even though illumination levels are comparable to twilight [Chou, 1981, 1996; Marsh, 1982]. Failure to use proper observing methods may result in permanent eye damage or severe visual loss. This can have important adverse effects on career choices and earning potential, since it has been shown that most individuals who sustain eclipse-related eye injuries are children and young adults [Penner and McNair, 1966; Chou and Krailo, 1981].

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, "Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices," ACGIH, Cincinnati, 1996, p.100.

25-09-2006, 06:02 PM
Even the Dept. of Education only says 'Do not use these filters as they 'MAY' produce a build up of heat and explode.

Page 31 here: http://www.decs.sa.gov.au/ohs/files/links/2005_OHS_Science_Man_Final.pdf#sear ch=%22regulations%20telescope%20sol ar%20filter%22

It would be nice to find the actual law/regulation.

25-09-2006, 06:20 PM
Ken, that document also says that 1/1000 equals 1%. :doh: Dept of Education. Heaven help your kids. :prey2:

25-09-2006, 06:44 PM
Hi Tony,

As I said earlier I don't have a legal background, but still three little words are the problem for me: Defamation, Libel and Slander. Unfortunately Australia is starting to follow trends set by other countries and spending more time in the courts than outside in the sun. :(

I think we all agree that solar/sun eyepiece filters can be very dangerous when misused, but that doesn't make them illegal per se. Knives and cars are very dangerous when misused, but they aren't illegal either.

If solar/sun eyepiece filters are actually illegal I'd like to know what makes them so (whether that be legislation or a "banned goods" import list) before asking the dealers to stop selling the products.

Someone else here must agree, otherwise snowyskiesau's post which named one of the dealers would not have been removed.


25-09-2006, 06:51 PM
Not exactly. When I read it I saw "This filter allows only 1/1000 of 1% of the sunís light to pass through the filter." :)

25-09-2006, 06:53 PM
Regardless of the law regarding eyepiece-end sun filters, I don't see how an individual could get into trouble by writing to a dealer saying "I don't like your business pratices; I want you to stop selling dangerous filters". Many individual such letters might have an impact.

In the same vein, I don't think you'd run foul of the law by saying "I don't like xyz dealer because they sell this type of solar filter".

25-09-2006, 07:08 PM
My bad! Humble apologies Dept of Edu!! :ashamed: How much diff one letter makes! (of/or)

25-09-2006, 07:20 PM
Hi Tony,

Common sense would support what you say as true. But let me put some spin on it...

It's not actually a legal matter (I think), but a civil one. Let's say someone did acuse a company of doing something illegal. Whether it actually had any effect or not, that company could turn around and claim a damaged reputation, lost customers, lost potential sales, etc. and then take the "perpetrator" to civil court. All they have to do is convince a judge that the original statements had a measurable and adverse affect on their business. If a police investigation proved that they weren't doing anything illegal at all it would only add more weight to their argument.

But this is getting off-topic... all I want to know is: are solar/sun eyepiece filters actually illegal in Australia?


25-09-2006, 08:04 PM
It amuses me that your still going on about it. A responsible citizen would
just do the right thing and report the product to consumer affairs. No
use be a sheriff in something you know nothing about : ) let the people
who's job is to protect consumers do their job. And instead bleating around
the bush here Repoert IT! Dont talk about it! End of argument.

regards,CS sunny days


25-09-2006, 08:59 PM
Someone in here (Laurie or Houghy) emailed a complaint thru to Consumer Affairs once before about a shop in Oz selling these blasted things. The ad was removed from their site.

As Rob said above: Just do it!

26-09-2006, 08:03 AM
Rob I think your comment is uncalled for and inappropriate, and would've been better kept to yourself.

Deimos has his reasons for taking the cautious approach, and I can understand why. There have been instances in the past of a vendor threatening legal action because of what was said about them in this forum. Maybe a state of blissful ignorance is great for most people, but other times, there are very good reasons to be careful what you say.

Sending an email is one approach, actually trying to find out if they ARE illegal is another. Everyone talks about them being bad, it's great that someone is actually doing some research to find out if they are illegal. If they're not, then they should be.

They can't really be compared to knives - knives have another purpose (cutting food). Eyepiece solar filters are for one purpose, looking at the sun. They're clearly not fit for that purpose, are very dangerous, and any vendors selling them should be made to stop.

Finding out if they're illegal, and then reporting it, is a very good way of stopping vendors from selling what could be a very harmful device.

26-09-2006, 03:21 PM
Sorry Mike,

But I dont, Here there is an issue with a product being sold to consumers,
which is highly dangerous. Now we can sit around here and debate it all you
like, or until someone actually comes up with the legislation/law/code of
conduct. Where these thing are taken care of by a _body_ called consumer
affairs. I dont see why Diemos seems to think it is up to him to approach
this company only when and once he has some sort of amunition.

When Starkler notified consumer affairs they did something about it. WITH
no legal ramifications to Starkler. So why is this taking so long to resolve.
Yes I guess calling Diemos a sheriff, but I fear while he's playing about
these things apparently are still on the self. Maybe some well intended
grandma brought one over the weekend for her 8 yrs grandson. While
it would of been easier for Diemos to just ring consumer affairs.

I dont think he should contact the seller, the seller then notifies the
importer who may of been warned before, then escape prosecution
for any possible breach.

just my 2 cents worth, where talking about peoples safety here


26-09-2006, 03:30 PM
Rob, if you are so concerned for unsuspecting grandmothers and the like and fancy yourself a "responsible citizen", why don't you ring Consumer Affairs? I'd be curious to see how long it takes them to do something about it.

26-09-2006, 03:41 PM
Fair enough Steve,

What am I going to tell them, ummm somewhere in australia, ummm you
could try googling solar filter and you might find a couple of references....

give me the dealers name, PM me and I'll call consumer affairs myself no
problem : )

be happy to



26-09-2006, 03:43 PM
you have seen the adverts attached to this thread, what are you doing?

deimos is doing something, and he is doing it the correct way... no rushing in with guns blazing. :lol:

26-09-2006, 03:55 PM
First time I have seen the advert is when you just now point them out Ving.
I've been away in Grafton doing maternity things for the last few days : )



26-09-2006, 03:58 PM
preparing the house for the newcomer hey? :)

26-09-2006, 04:06 PM
Yup kinda, lol

The hospital is near 100kms away, and it's costing to much to stay
down there for me and Jake. Rather spend it on mum and babs. But
Boy I sure am missing them. Evening ringing them is a toll call but
it's cheaper than gas.



26-09-2006, 04:06 PM
Rob, sent you a PM with a couple of leads. :whistle: Go get them! :D

26-09-2006, 04:17 PM
I've spoken with the one supplier I previously identified. The advertised item is not in stock and will be replaced by an 'upgraded' model when the next shipment arrives in two weeks time. The person at the store who is the specialist/expert on the telescope line is on holidays until then so getting any useful information was not possible.

The next step would be to place an inquiry with the Dept of Fair Trading (seeing the store is in NSW). The first question they ask is 'Has the issue been discussed with the trader in an attempt to resolve the problem?'

Talk to the supplier, express your concerns and if they don't want to do anything about it, or don't understand the issue, then talk to the Dept of Fair Trading. They will follow it up - your taxes at work.

26-09-2006, 04:23 PM
Pity 'Current Affair' wouldn't touch it.

They would only do a story on it if some poor kid got blinded. Too late then for that kid! Like putting a band-aid on an amputated leg.

And I don't wish for someone to be injured or blinded just to get the item mentioned. But until something bad happens, it's not a story to them.

28-09-2006, 03:46 AM
Where does the term "Oz" come from. I live in the US and never heard it before I joined this forum.

Thanks and sorry for the OT post,


28-09-2006, 06:00 AM
Oz is short for Aussie, which is short for Australia :)

28-09-2006, 08:42 AM
"Oz"...I like it. :thumbsup: Thanks, Mike.


30-09-2006, 01:55 PM
Hi all.

The whole issue of the legality of solar filters in Australia is very confused, and pops up every time there is an eclipse here.

The basic problem seems to be that there are no Australian standards for the safety of solar filters. Now WE all know what's safe -- full aperture filters firmly attached to the front of the scope -- and what's not -- cheap welder's glass attached to the eyepiece. (BTW, if you are NOT sure what's safe, just ask!)

But this appears to be too difficult for the bureaucrats and lawyers to understand. Back during the 1976 eclipse, they banned Roger Tuthill from selling his solar filter material. Something similar happened to someone (Rudy in Wollongong?) importing solar filters for the 2002 eclipse. Want to bet it'll happen again for the 2012 eclipse?

This is not helped by the fact that the Australian Ophthalmological Association -- the pro eye doctors in Aus -- claim that "there is no safe way to observe the Sun". Geez, that's news to me. And it ignores the fact that the sun is 100% safe to observe _without filters_ during the few minutes of totality of a total eclipse.

I think we should all do our bit to stop companies from selling solar eyepiece filters. They are dangerous, and should be banned. But we should also do our bit to tell people that there are safe ways to observe the sun -- filters, projection, pin-holes, whatever. It's truly sad that the people of Zambia were given more accurate information about eye safety for the 2001 eclipse by their government than we receive from our local "experts".