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.