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When is it considered to be too cold to observe

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#101 jjbag

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Posted 22 February 2021 - 09:57 PM

As I approach my 60's regardless of where you live (well South Florida maybe the exception) winter is getting colder as we age, so I've started looking at options to keep me warm and I'm by no means living in the Tundra, I'm originally from N. of Boston, Now I live in VA where during winter we get nights in the upper teens low 20's where i feel its "COLD".. now lately I've been catching myself scanning the "electric" outfits, they sell rechargeable electric Pants/Coats/Gloves/Socks... You name it (lasting up to 10 hours on low setting) So I think I will have next winters solution for myself anyways....  its a thought...

 

Regards,

 

JJ


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#102 JMW

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Posted 22 February 2021 - 10:14 PM

I am not big on spending more than about an hour outside observing in the 3 coldest months. It is mostly with a grab and go SVR90T. Usually the motivation is some astronomy event that is happening during the cold months. Reno is seldom below 10 F so not nearly as cold as when I lived in northern Michigan growing up. I miss seeing the northern lights in the winter. Haven't seen them since I moved away from living at the 45th parallel.

 

We have taken 7 trips to Death Valley in January or February because we were tired of winter cold and wanted to observe under warm conditions and long dark nights. It's a several hour trip pulling the trailer down from Reno but most of them have been enjoyable. A few were mostly clouded out but we still enjoyed taking hikes during the day. It's great being out a 7PM under full darkness and only using a sweat shirt for warmth in the middle of winter. We had a good trip last February before COVID-19 started to effect travel.



#103 Alan D. Whitman

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 01:11 AM

Well, I'm old now and seldom observe below -8 C (18 F). But the coldest that we have seen in our 24 years here in Penticton, British Columbia was -21 C (-6 F)  and most winters it doesn't fall below -16 C so I am no longer acclimated.

 

When we lived in Prince George, BC at latitude 54 N we would get a week of -40 C (equals -40 F) or colder every winter although it apparently hasn't been that cold since we left. When Great Comet Hyakutake arrived in late winter I was well-acclimated to cold and observed and sketched at -35 C for a couple of hours, and sketching requires brief periods of bare fingers. It wasn't just me -- hundreds of people came out to our club's observatory to see Hyakutake night after night, and stood in long lines for it. Enroute, we saw numerous family groups out comet-viewing at that temperature as well. Northerners are tough, and people were used to the cold at the end of a long winter.

 

I am old and soft now, but if a great comet or bright nova came along I would bundle up and be out with binoculars at any temperature. As a skier, I do have the necessary clothes. Tony mentioned Sorel boots -- they are the solution for far colder temperatures than ever occur in this mild corner of Canada.

 

As some have said, all the time that it takes to dress for the cold deters casual observing. And I agree with the poster who said that my TeleVue eyepieces deserve to be handled with bare fingers, not gloves.

 

When it is cold I will come into the heated but dark basement to write my observing notes before going back out for the next object.

 

Alan Whitman

semi-arid Okanagan Valley of interior British Columbia, Canada



#104 alphatripleplus

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 02:23 PM

When I lived in NJ I would venture out if it was above 15F. Nowadays, I draw the line around 25F-30F - assuming no wind.



#105 Rollo

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:57 PM

When you have lived in Florida for 31 years,,,,, anything below 60 degrees is chilly.   Lol   



#106 quicksiver

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 11:24 AM

In the UK we are well used to chilly observing sessions in the Winter. When is it too cold to go on? I would say when frostbite sets in!



#107 Cfeastside

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 08:03 PM

when long sleeves are required! ha!  i'm a wuss and a fair wx dude i guess.  Seriously, though when it starts going south of 30F i'm looking to head in.  i'm looking forward to summer observing/AP!



#108 Dobserver

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 03:08 AM

I'm spoiled; Los Angeles rarely gets below 40F. My observing sites the last few months have been getting down to the low 30s, and I have learned that I am ok with that, but nothing much below. Sub-freezing is where I personally have to draw the line. In December, it got down to about 18°; I was pretty miserable and my session didn't last too long. I don't know how you guys in Minnesota, Canada, etc. do it!


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#109 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 05:50 AM

I'm spoiled; Los Angeles rarely gets below 40F. My observing sites the last few months have been getting down to the low 30s, and I have learned that I am ok with that, but nothing much below. Sub-freezing is where I personally have to draw the line. In December, it got down to about 18°; I was pretty miserable and my session didn't last too long. I don't know how you guys in Minnesota, Canada, etc. do it!

In one word -- warm clothing. If you were properly dressed, you would be toasty warm for hours at 18F.



#110 csrlice12

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 11:46 AM

But do you really want to be outside at 18*F.....


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#111 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 02:56 PM

But do you really want to be outside at 18*F.....

What a strange question. I always want to be outside! Even at midday in mid-summer, which unlike 18F on a clear night requires a certain degree of physical stamina. Though I certainly try to stick to the shadows when it's hot and sunny.


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#112 Tony Flanders

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 07:45 AM

As some have said, all the time that it takes to dress for the cold deters casual observing.

It takes me perhaps 4 minutes to get dressed for a few hours of winter observing. That's about 1 minute longer than it would take me to dress for a mid-afternoon stroll.

Either way I have to put on socks, boots, a jacket, a hat, and mittens. I wear a much warmer jacket for astronomy than for strenuous daytime activities, but it takes no longer to put on a thick jacket than a thin one. The extra minute is due to my ski bib, which would be utterly superfluous if I weren't planning to be more or less stationary for long periods of time.

I also slip a handwarmer or two into my pockets, but that takes hardly any time at all.

 

I will admit that my hands work much better in cold weather than most people's do. The difference between me and my wife is truly striking -- hardly surprising since she has intermittent Reynaud's syndrome. That means that she uses handwarmers even for a daytime stroll.


Edited by Tony Flanders, 26 February 2021 - 07:47 AM.


#113 litesong

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 02:34 PM

In one word -- warm clothing. If you were properly dressed, you would be toasty warm for hours at 18F.

I’ve had warm cloths while observing at 6500feet in late October. Still not as good as a well insulated home....in bed....with flannel, wool, fleece sheets & blankets &/or fireplace. I’ve really fallen in love with....... sleep.

PS....That reminds me........zzzzzzzzzzz!!!!


Edited by litesong, 26 February 2021 - 02:35 PM.


#114 MawkHawk

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 08:13 PM

But do you really want to be outside at 18*F.....

My personal record is -10F. It happened because by iPhone weather app stopped at 4F. I was getting colder and colder but the app always stayed at 4F. When I started my vehicle to head home, my Equinox said it was -10F. My rear window never defrosted the whole 45 min drive home.



#115 Tony Flanders

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Posted 27 February 2021 - 07:33 AM

I’ve had warm cloths while observing at 6500feet in late October. Still not as good as a well insulated home....in bed....with flannel, wool, fleece sheets & blankets &/or fireplace. I’ve really fallen in love with....... sleep.

PS....That reminds me........zzzzzzzzzzz!!!!

Yeah, there is that. I spend a mighty lot of time in bed during the winter -- especially now that we have an electric mattress pad. Great invention, that -- far better than an electric blanket. But somehow when it comes to getting out of bed in a 55F room and putting on cold clothes, staying in bed always seems like a very inviting alternative. And more so every year as I get older.

 

But there was one time this winter when I got up to pee at 3:30AM, saw the sky was clear outside, and decided on a whim to haul out the 12.5-incher. The temperature at that point was 3F and falling rapidly (so testifies my Ambient Weather internet-accessible weather station). But dead calm, which makes all the difference. Even so, I'm not about to skip breakfast at 3F, so it was a full hour later before I was actually out under the stars. By which time it was just an hour to the onset of astro twilight, so I just putzed around at random at 59X and 151X, with an eyepiece for each in each pocket of my huge puffy down jacket. I often fall back on observing Messier objects; they're my special friends. Plus the priceless pairing of M53 and NGC 5053, my own personal favorite globular cluster.

 

The great thing about restricting myself to two eyepieces, one per pocket, is that my hands only have to leave my pockets on rare occasions. I use only clean mitts specially dedicated to astronomy, so they are eyepiece-friendly -- no chance for oily fingers to come in contact with glass. So my hands only leave my pockets for brief times, to move the scope, to refocus. That way I never have to worry about cold hands -- the only truly serious problem with cold-weather astronomy.

 

Warm hands -- that's what cold-weather happiness is all about. And the answer is keep them in your pockets, pockets, whenever possible pockets. Keep them against your body, where it's warm. If my hands start out toasty warm, I can pull off my mitts and work quite happily bare-handed for a surprisingly long period of time. And when they get cold, I stop, do something else, and give my hands a break. Those little lithium-battery egg-shaped handwarmers are really effective. And they double as cell-phone chargers, which also often come in handy in cold weather.

 

Then just as twilight began to overpower the light pollution of the Housatonic Valley to my east, I went in, heated up a cup of coffee, and enjoyed watching the stars going out and the new day being born. If that's not astronomy, then what is? And what better way could there possibly have been to spend a few hours on a clear winter morning? Lying in bed would have been fun, but this one was special.

 

P.S. The temp bottomed out around -4F right around sunrise. The only time during this entire experience when I felt chilly was while getting out of bed and preparing my breakfast. If I'd been smart I would have put on my outdoor clothes before breakfast, not after.



#116 litesong

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 05:23 PM

I When I lived in NJ I would venture out if it was above 15F. Nowadays, I draw the line around 25F-30F - assuming no wind.

That was almost my argument with myself.......not for astronomy, but for going to work. Drop the first sentence. Saved myself lots of slipping & sliding going to work......and lots of  walking on snow covered logs at work.


Edited by litesong, 28 February 2021 - 05:25 PM.



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