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Winters vs Summers

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#1 DAG792

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 12:59 AM

Summers are great. Great seeing, lots of things to observe(Summer Milky-Way), and the best part, I can just waltz out in a t-shirt and shorts and spend a couple of hours out in the night-sky without a worry in the world. The seeing is good almost every other night. Yes there are bugs and mosquitoes, but a little mosquito-repellent is all it takes to forget about them.

 

On the other hand, I hate winters when I have to do astronomy.

Between university classes, and a part-time job, I'm really tired at the end of the day and in no mood to get dressed up again and haul a scope out(OK I'll admit I'm pretty lazy). The seeing is terrible most nights, and to add insult to injury, both my scopes take twice as long to cool down. Most winter nights I won't observe at all. 

 

I also feel like there's less to see in winters, but maybe that's just me.

 

Only thing that winter has going for it is that there are more dark hours, but still, I can't see the appeal of winter observing.

 

Where I live, it doesn't even get below 0 Celsius(32 Fahrenheit) too often. I can't even imagine how people go out to observe in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) conditions. How do you lot even find the motivation to observe??

 

  


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#2 DHEB

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 01:13 AM

For some of us summer means permanent daylight or twilight at best, there is really no summer observing except solar observing. When it is cold, there are different choices of clothing that can help. As you, some people prefer not to observe during the winter at all. Thats fine, it's a hobby afterall. Then there are great nights in the spring and autumn, cool but not cold, minimal or no bugs. Those are wonderful. Enjoy as you find it best.
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#3 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 01:34 AM

I am at 32.7 degree north.. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are all very nice for observing.  In the high desert, summer is warm during the day but at night, it can be quite cool, often in the 40s to low 50s F.  Sometimes it's warm, 70 or so but that is actually quite rare.  The winters are cooler but it's never freezing.

 

Mosquitoes, mosquito repellent, not interested.. don't like either one.  Fortunately, mosquitoes require water to breed.  No water means no mosquitoes, and that is both down along the coast and in the high desert.

 

Jon


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#4 Frisky

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 02:02 AM

Just to see how many days one could observe, in Southern Minnesota, I went out nearly every clear night, for two years, and ended up with 438 nights out with my scope and 12 with binoculars. Winter was a huge challenge, with windchills down to minus 55 Fahrenheit. The best observing was the Orion Nebula and a lunar eclipse. Also Winter Albireo and many lunar features. Cold didn't hurt my equipment, but I usually stayed out for no more than 30 minutes. Rarely more than 45 minutes. After my two year experiment was up, I hardly went out during my third winter at all, lol! As much as I like winter observing, I don't intend to do too much of it this winter. For me, spring, summer and fall are best!

 

Joe


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#5 Alex65

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 05:17 AM

I do most of my observing in the late Fall, Winter and early Spring simply because the skies do not get dark up here (56* North) during the Summer period (early May - late September).

 

In the Summer I tend to just observe the Moon or watching out for Noctilucent cloud displays. The big star clouds of the Sag / Scorpio region lie right at the horizon, and below, from here so I wouldn't get to enjoy them anyhow even if it were dark.

 

I just dress warmly in the Winter, no big deal. I do all of my observing from my backyard, so if I do feel the cold I just pop indoors for a quick warm snack or drink. Winter is also good up here for Aurorae shows.


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#6 csrlice12

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 09:44 AM

Earth is such a terrible place to observe from....first, there's that big star close by, then there's this thick layer of gasses surrounding the planet, and a second planet revolving around it that frequently reflects enough light from the nearby star to effectively block out most observable objects....and the Earth rotates, this depriving you of any long periods of darkness....and most of the planet is salt water which is corrosive to astro gear.  No, Earth really is a terrible place to observe from....but some of us are gluttons for punishment.


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#7 kathyastro

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 10:11 AM

My limit for in-person observing was about 0C.  I could handle a couple of hours at that temperature before my feet and hands started to get too cold.  Not enough movement.

 

There's a reason I now do mostly imaging from an automated observatory!


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#8 viewer

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 10:34 AM

At 60N I think the smart thing to do is to embrace solar during summer, as there is nothing else to see for three months. During winter it gets dark so early you don't risk losing sleep. Quite a deal, in my opinion wink.gif


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#9 GGK

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 11:20 AM

Interesting thread.

I’m in southwest Florida at 26.5 degrees latitude. Subtropical climate. Our two seasons are Wet season - June through September, and Dry season - November through April. May and October are transition months.

Dry season over winter is an outstanding time for astronomy. Nights in the 60s to 70s and minimal bugs. Many many nights of excellent Seeing supporting higher than normal magnification. Transparency is almost always good to excellent. Humidity and dew can sometimes be a challenge over winter and usually a dew shield and dew heater are both needed.

Wet season over summer is, well, interesting. Rain storms can form quickly most anywhere. These are not frontal systems; they just form out of nothing when the ultra high humidity meets up with the dew point. You have to be ready to get the scope out when it clears for 30 minutes, and to grab everything and run when your luck runs out. If it doesn’t feel like rain, all it takes is patience to get breaks in the clouds and some excellent observing time. I’ll be viewing and think my lens dewed up, but when I look up, it’s complete cloud cover, which is very likely to break apart somewhere in the next 10 minutes. Being able to move to a different location in the yard to look through the new hole is often needed if your location has obstructions. Transparency over summer is often bad due to Sahara dust blowing over. However, the highly humid still air can provide very stable Seeing. The loud roar you here is probably mosquitoes. I rarely wear a coat over winter, but over summer I wear a light sun jacket with a hood when it’s 85 degrees at night to deflect the bugs a little. Quite often they still win in the end. Morning before sun-up is often better than evening over summer.

So with all that said, Winter here is loved by all. Summer is the time when you learn who likes a challenge.

Gary


Edited by GGK, 24 October 2021 - 11:25 AM.

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#10 DSOGabe

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 03:45 PM

I think that it's dependent on one's location. I'm in the desert Southwest, so it mean hot summers. With DST, it doesn't really get dark till about 9.00 which limits me to pretty much to weekend viewing only. And it will still be hot for several hours which is unpleasant for me.  Mosquitoes and gnats dive bomb me endlessly as an added "benefit". 

Winter usually isn't that cold, so its not its not an ordeal to go out at a far earlier time and get longer viewing sessions- now I can also add some viewing during the week. Since I view from my backyard in B8 skies, my eyes really don't do significant night adaptation, so if it does get colder I go into my back porch for a few  minutes at a time to thaw out a bit. 

I guess that location, location, location can also apply to amateur astronomy!


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#11 lunardave

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 04:09 PM

Summers are great. Great seeing, lots of things to observe(Summer Milky-Way), and the best part, I can just waltz out in a t-shirt and shorts and spend a couple of hours out in the night-sky without a worry in the world. The seeing is good almost every other night. Yes there are bugs and mosquitoes, but a little mosquito-repellent is all it takes to forget about them.

 

On the other hand, I hate winters when I have to do astronomy.

Between university classes, and a part-time job, I'm really tired at the end of the day and in no mood to get dressed up again and haul a scope out(OK I'll admit I'm pretty lazy). The seeing is terrible most nights, and to add insult to injury, both my scopes take twice as long to cool down. Most winter nights I won't observe at all. 

 

I also feel like there's less to see in winters, but maybe that's just me.

 

Only thing that winter has going for it is that there are more dark hours, but still, I can't see the appeal of winter observing.

 

Where I live, it doesn't even get below 0 Celsius(32 Fahrenheit) too often. I can't even imagine how people go out to observe in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) conditions. How do you lot even find the motivation to observe??

Heated clothing?



#12 tommyboy

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 08:55 PM

I love my Carhartt coverall.


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#13 weis14

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 09:37 PM

I routinely observe in the winter down to around 0F or so, but usually only for short sessions.  The key is layers and warm boots.  Also, I prefer to have mittens that have the folding fingertip covers so I can manipulate fine screws with my fingers when necessary.  

 

The big advantage of winter, as others have said, is that it gets dark so much earlier and their are no bugs.  In June at my location, astronomical twilight doesn't end until nearly midnight and starts again around 3am.  Plus, the sky is full of mosquitos and the humidity often makes dew a major battle. Unfortunately, starting around mid-November through mid-February, it is often cloudy for two weeks or more at a time.  


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#14 DAG792

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Posted 25 October 2021 - 01:12 AM

Heated clothing?

I don't have any issue with the cold, I just have issue with the amount of effort it takes to beat the cold.


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#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 October 2021 - 01:39 AM

Dry season over winter is an outstanding time for astronomy. Nights in the 60s to 70s and minimal bugs. Many many nights of excellent Seeing supporting higher than normal magnification. Transparency is almost always good to excellent. Humidity and dew can sometimes be a challenge over winter and usually a dew shield and dew heater are both needed.

 

 Reading this thread, what stands out the most is the differences in everyone's situations.  For example, what you call your "dry season" is wetter than San Diego's wet season.. Last year was a drier than normal year, we got just over 5 inches of rain for the entire year.. 

 

San Diego itself has a very moderate climate but the county and even the urban areas are a myriad of micro-climates.  Drive 5 miles inland from our place near the coast, it will probably be 5-10 degrees warmer, drive 15 miles, it might be 15-20 degrees warmer.

 

Drive 70 miles out to our place in the high desert, it's a different world. 85-95 F for summer highs with very low humidity, summer nights, because of the transparent skies normally drop down to 45-55F.  Winters are cooler than San Diego, days in the 50s-60s. nights from 30-45 F, it is normally quite windy, that's my big obstacle.  I wear pretty much the same observing clothing winter and summer, just fewer layers underneath. This summer there were some warm nights when it was around 70F but that is unusual. We're at 3700 feet so it's considerably cooler than the low desert.  

 

I consider 10mph essentially calm, 20 mph is getting up there, 25mph to 30mph is the limit and when it's blowing 25-30 and it's close to freezing, that's my limit. The country is open, no place to really hide from the wind.. 

 

Dag's situation is different too.. Part time job, university classes..  obligations..  I am retired.. 

 

Jon


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#16 gwlee

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Posted 25 October 2021 - 08:34 PM

No mosquitoes here at 4,300 feet and 38 N latitude. I try to accept what the site offers and make the best of it. Tend to use smaller instruments and observe for shorter sessions in the Winter. Winter rain and snowstorms cut down on observing frequency too. Tend to do a little more solar observing in Winter. Summer wildfire smoke has recently started cutting into Summer observing frequency too, which is probably the new normal here. 


Edited by gwlee, 25 October 2021 - 08:53 PM.

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#17 Tony Flanders

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Posted 26 October 2021 - 06:02 AM

Summers are great. Great seeing, lots of things to observe(Summer Milky-Way), and the best part, I can just waltz out in a t-shirt and shorts and spend a couple of hours out in the night-sky without a worry in the world. ...

 

On the other hand, I hate winters when I have to do astronomy.

Between university classes, and a part-time job, I'm really tired at the end of the day and in no mood to get dressed up again and haul a scope out(OK I'll admit I'm pretty lazy). ...


Where I live, it doesn't even get below 0 Celsius(32 Fahrenheit) too often. I can't even imagine how people go out to observe in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) conditions.

There's a lot in here that you're taking for granted. Apparently you are still of school age, and are used to having leisure during the summer vacation and toil during the remaining months. I think that when push comes to shove, that's really what's motivating your love of summer and hatred of "winter." The very fact that you're dividing the year into summer and winter rather than the customary spring, summer, autumun, and winter hints strongly at that fact.

 

For what it's worth, in my part of the world (northeastern U.S.) just about everyone agrees that autumn is the best time for astronomy. Long nights, moderate temperatures, no bugs ... what's not to like?

 

I'm trying hard to guess where you live. Many places in the U.S. match your description of climate, but almost all of those places call the first institution of higher education college rather than university. Southern England, perchance? But if so, doesn't it bother you that it never gets fully dark in the summer?

 

As for observing in temperatures below freezing, it bothers me not at all -- just a matter of putting on the right clothing. Which takes me perhaps 3 or 4 minutes longer than putting on the right clothing (and bug spray) in summer. Truly no big deal. At least not until the temperature gets down to the -10C (14F) range.

 

Of course people living in places where the temperature rarely falls below freezing aren't likely to own the appropriate clothing for winter astronomy. It's possible to stay warm anyway with multiple layers, but that truly is a major hassle. Also, people living in areas where the temp rarely falls below freezing tend to have an unspoken cultural bias against winter, whereas people in areas where the temp rarely rises above freezing for much of the year tend to embrace winter. Cultural bias counts for much more than most people realize.


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#18 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 October 2021 - 06:23 AM

Of course people living in places where the temperature rarely falls below freezing aren't likely to own the appropriate clothing for winter astronomy. It's possible to stay warm anyway with multiple layers, but that truly is a major hassle. Also, people living in areas where the temp rarely falls below freezing tend to have an unspoken cultural bias against winter, whereas people in areas where the temp rarely rises above freezing for much of the year tend to embrace winter. Cultural bias counts for much more than most people realize.

 

 

I think there is some real truth to that.  In the mountains and deserts of San Diego county, there are real winters and summers. It gets pretty cold in the mountains in the winter.  On the eastern slopes and desert it tends to be windy and cold, depending on the altitude. It's open country so there is no place to hide from the wind.  25mph and 30 degrees F is not all that much fun.

 

Finding warm clothes can be difficult. What I do:  My sister-in-law lives in Maine, the middle son lives in Appleton, Wisconsin and the youngest lives in Lolo Montana, just outside of Missoula. I buy my stargazing clothes when I visit them. 

 

Still, i think most people like me who live in a climate like this, really don't understand exactly how to properly dress for the cold.  When it's in the 30's and blowing 10-20 mph, I generally have to go inside to warm up every couple of hours.

 

Jon 


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#19 DAG792

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Posted 26 October 2021 - 07:45 AM

I'm trying hard to guess where you live. Many places in the U.S. match your description of climate, but almost all of those places call the first institution of higher education college rather than university. Southern England, perchance? But if so, doesn't it bother you that it never gets fully dark in the summer?

I don't live in the US, but rather down in the tropics(Malaysia currently, but I'm from Pakistan).

 

There's a lot in here that you're taking for granted. Apparently you are still of school age, and are used to having leisure during the summer vacation and toil during the remaining months. I think that when push comes to shove, that's really what's motivating your love of summer and hatred of "winter." The very fact that you're dividing the year into summer and winter rather than the customary spring, summer, autumun, and winter hints strongly at that fact.

 

 Honestly, this is pretty much true, although the reason why I'm not mentioning summer and autumn is because in general, they are horrible times to observe where I live. Spring has a lot of cloudy days, while we have a very short-lived 'autumn' here, with most of the days from September to October having 'monsoon weather'; This year, I got out to observe maybe 2 or 3 nights in the entire month of October up till now, and those were quite recent. 

Anyways, quite astute observations from your part.


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#20 gwlee

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Posted 29 October 2021 - 12:20 AM

 

 

Of course people living in places where the temperature rarely falls below freezing aren't likely to own the appropriate clothing for winter astronomy. It's possible to stay warm anyway with multiple layers, but that truly is a major hassle. Also, people living in areas where the temp rarely falls below freezing tend to have an unspoken cultural bias against winter, whereas people in areas where the temp rarely rises above freezing for much of the year tend to embrace winter. Cultural bias counts for much more than most people realize.

For me, astronomy is recreation. Living in a mild 4-season climate where rain or snow usually only falls between November and February, I find it easy to wait out the worst winter weather by embracing the opportunity to ski, snowshoe, or participate in other recreational activities instead of astronomy that I can’t do here for the other eight months of the year. 


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#21 stevew

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Posted 29 October 2021 - 12:41 AM

Over the last few years, I have decided that 3C or 4C above freezing is about my limit. It's not just the cold but up here in the Pacific Northwest it's also the dampness. Holding your breath at the eyepiece is no fun.

As a result I don't go out much in the Winter. I only get out to our observing site 3 or 4 times. It's like taking a break from Astronomy, sort off. I still dream about it, think about it, read about it, and discuss it [with you guys]. Summers is definitely my favorite time for observing.


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#22 Voyager 3

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Posted 30 October 2021 - 07:44 AM

I don't live in the US, but rather down in the tropics(Malaysia currently, but I'm from Pakistan).

 

 

 Honestly, this is pretty much true, although the reason why I'm not mentioning summer and autumn is because in general, they are horrible times to observe where I live. Spring has a lot of cloudy days, while we have a very short-lived 'autumn' here, with most of the days from September to October having 'monsoon weather'; This year, I got out to observe maybe 2 or 3 nights in the entire month of October up till now, and those were quite recent. 

Anyways, quite astute observations from your part.

Bang bang . 

 

I would be surprised if the temps dip below 10° C in Malaysia unless it's a high altitude region . 

 

For me , June through November is generally overcast due to the very fact of monsoon ( and I've to face 2 courses ). The winters are cool but sometimes can get chilly and windy around where I live due to the higher altitude but still not often below 10°C . But hey 5°C is bone freezing for us wink.gif . The winter is the clearest season . 


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#23 csrlice12

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Posted 30 October 2021 - 11:36 AM

In the long run, you miss a lot of good night's, go out a lot of nights that go bad....thing is to enjoy those nights out.  There have been nights I've driven an hour to the dark site just to watch the stars come out and the moon rise....no scope, no binoculars, just my 1X eyeballs...yes, I go to dark sites to watch the moonrise....


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#24 RandomJoe

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Posted 01 November 2021 - 05:32 AM

There's a lot in here that you're taking for granted. Apparently you are still of school age, and are used to having leisure during the summer vacation and toil during the remaining months. ...  The very fact that you're dividing the year into summer and winter rather than the customary spring, summer, autumun, and winter hints strongly at that fact.

 

...or one could live in a place like Oklahoma where our "spring" and "fall" tend to last about two weeks, so hardly seem worth mentioning! lol.gif

 

Yes, I love spring and fall weather but it's fleeting here.  We tend to move very quickly between HOT and COLD.

 

 

As for my summer/winter preference, I'm not fond of the heat of summer but I hate / loathe / despise winter!  So many coworkers and others have said "you can always wear more clothes" but no amount of warm clothes helps me in the worst of winter.  I'm sure it's partly psychological, but I always feel miserable when outside in winter even if I'm not shivering.  Let alone how cumbersome it is to actually DO anything, when wearing gloves  and bundled up so much I can hardly move.

 

It isn't so bad if the wind would just stay down but - again - this is Oklahoma...!  undecided.gif


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#25 jcj380

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Posted 01 November 2021 - 08:21 AM

I observe winter objects in the early morning starting in September, so I was scanning around CMa and Monoceros today.  No need to freeze, but you do have to get up early.  Zero bugs.




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