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What's the coldest night you've done sketches in?

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#1 AdirondackAstro



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Posted 11 January 2019 - 12:57 PM

I live in northern NY (might as well say I live on the border of the US and Canada), and it gets pretty cold. Currently it is the daytime and the real feel is -7F (-21C), and that's with the sun shining and no clouds. I typically do astrophotography, and have done sketching in the past. I recently started going through old sketches (mostly around 2012) and was considering getting back into it, but these temperatures make it difficult to spend a long time at the eyepiece doing the detailed sketching. Heck, it's difficult to get out and setup the camera and the autoguider when it is this cold, but you have the comfort of going inside once the imaging is started so you can stay warm. 


How do you do your sketching on these extremely cold nights? Do you do a little bit, go inside to warm up, then go back out and continue where you left off? Do you just say to heck with it and wait for it to warm up? Are you extreme and sit out there for an hour while doing your sketching in the subzero temperatures? Just curious on your methods on cold weather sketching. I'd love to get back into doing my handwritten logs and sketching instead of just imaging every night. I feel like I get a new love/joy for the night sky when I'm sketching things I'm viewing through the eyepiece.


I typically do my logs in a Rhodia Webnotebook (blank pages), and write my notes with a fountain pen using a "bulletproof" ink which can handle lower temperatures and is good for documentation (less chance of fading over the years), and do my sketching with charcoal pencils, 4b soft, 6b extra soft pencils, and a smudge tool. It has been quite a few years since I have done any actual sketching and I'd really love to get back into it in the near future.


In the picture attached that was through a 6" newtonian reflector, and I have yet to attempt sketching through my 8" SCT.


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  • M42 M43 2-19-12.jpg

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#2 niteskystargazer


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Posted 11 January 2019 - 02:18 PM



Nice sketch of M-42 and M-43 smile.gif .




thanx.gif ,



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#3 Special Ed

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 06:22 PM



That's a nice sketch of M42/43--thanks for posting.  smile.gif 


I think everyone has their individual threshold of "too cold".    Mine is in the 20's F although I will go out in colder weather if there is something I really want to see (like the supernova in M82 back in January of 2014).


You probably have colder temps than 20's routinely in the winter at your location so I would just say--(1) dress for temps 20 degrees colder than the forecast temperature, (2) use chemical handwarmers, and (3) make rough field sketches with notes and then immediately bring them inside (while your visual memory is still fresh) and make a finished sketch.  No shame in doing the latter and you get a good sketch out of a miserable situation.


Good luck!

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#4 Jef De Wit

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 02:50 PM

This sketch was done at -11 °C coldday.gif

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#5 Jef De Wit

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 02:55 PM

And don't forget to put your gum in your pants. Once frozen you can't use it anymore fingertap.gif


Some madness at the end of a cold (-7 °C) observing night...

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#6 Exoplanets101


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Posted 12 January 2019 - 11:29 PM

About 15-20 degrees f

#7 David Gray

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 10:49 AM

In the main here in Durham-UK winters are fairly tolerable most years in my observing pursuits.  Lowest temperatures perhaps between -5ºC/23ºF & -10ºC/14ºF most years but often just above that range on a clear night.  Tho’ some nights come with a stiff breeze – keeps the dew at bay!


Winter 2010/11 was the coldest here by some measure but many clear nights and the observing went on and glad I made the effort.  In fact in spite of the heavy snow showers 2010 December was one of the sunniest on record here!


Significant damage being done to the roofs of houses in the street by the weight of frozen snow: a repeating cycle of snow/semi-thaw/freeze/snow…….built up a glacier-like thick creeping mass that dragged slates with it and tore away guttering……see bottom right photo: from front (west facing) bedroom window


The photos on the attached show what pretty much became routine to get observing over those weeks.   Dipping to -23ºC/-9ºF even lifting and cracking the concrete at front of the observatory (shed!) and stopping the door being opened briefly at one point.


As to winter observing: what I am shown wearing is the most I ever wear for that: a parka and a few lighter upper-garments underneath.  Getting trussed up to the point of waddling about like a penguin doing a lat-spread just does not work at the scope………


Gloves I sketch with are a one-size-fits-all type – no make-label and seem to be a sort of knitted stretchable acrylic material and no impedance to pencil use whatsoever. Can’t be bothered with those fingerless efforts and definitely not mittens – last wore the latter when I was a 3-yr old and were not good for snowballing either………!


Cold or not: too much going on with Jupiter & Saturn for that weather to stop me following……..A Jupiter SEB Revival underway and the most astounding storm I’d ever seen on Saturn. The Nov 15 Jupiter sketch shows the point/focus of the SEB ‘eruption’.  Saturn: (2011 Jan 29), done in less frigid conditions, shows its development from previous weeks (many sketches) when I first saw the precursor single spot shining through thin cloud like a searchlight on the planet and was very easy to see in the 3” as the sky cleared more.


Never would have forgiven myself wimping out on that.



2010 11 Winter.jpg

Edited by David Gray, 17 January 2019 - 10:57 AM.

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#8 frank5817


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Posted 19 January 2019 - 12:40 AM



Nice sketch.  


Anything below -7 degrees C seem too cold to me unless you were doing some vigorous exercise first.


Jef above could handle much colder than than -7 degrees C. He is smiling.


Frank :)

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#9 Allan Wade

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 12:03 AM

Here in Australia we are built for heat. I wouldn’t dream of going out in -21C. Not that I could, it never gets that cold here. I usually start complaining when it gets to -5C. grin.gif

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#10 bertandlaville


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Posted 21 January 2019 - 03:58 PM

Hi All,


Here is a night at -15°C !


Clear and cold skies!





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#11 Roragi



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:17 AM

The first days of January I had good night observation. I show the image at 12 o'clock at night when the temperature was - 8.3 ° Celsius. I usually paint with very thin cotton gloves to have sensitivity.










#12 Starman47


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:32 AM

This is a bit extreme, at least from my perspective. but then I lived on the Sunshine Coast (Australia) until recently. So cold for me is a bit warmer than what you guys are doing.

Edited by Starman47, 23 January 2019 - 10:34 AM.

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