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I won't be taking my telescope out tonight because...


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Not sure it's allowed to give a feedback on this "sad" thread (I seem to be ruining the other "happy" thread doing that recently ). Just let me know. But I used to observe in -30C winters in Siberia

Cloud. Cold. Garden is a bog. Considering hibernation. 

Clouds aren't scheduled to clear till midnight and I've got to be up at 5.30 to take the other half to work. Can't moan she's an NHS worker.   They need all the help they can get at the mo. 

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I'm giving it serious consideration but it's the Moon rather than mud that's putting me off.

We have excellent drainage in our back garden When the estate was built they just crushed the old industrial buildings and covered the whole site. When they'd done they just rolled it and laid turf. Go 2 inches down and it's a 6 inch layer of hardcore.  A week of dry weather in summer and the grass turns brown.

There are bands of showers in the vicinity though. I had an emergency take down last time I was out - on top of a frozen telescope. Like a tsunami meeting an ice age...

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40 minutes ago, Richie092 said:

Mr Thingy - Sure, I only need a small patch down here 🙂

 

Very kind of you. Turned out it worked too - Forecast just changed (though it's not clear until late/early).931223183_Screenshot_20210121-1857472.thumb.png.3e533e61d0eeb8a3f509d6a4cd14d871.png

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I have a raised patio area that is 5ft above the garden. If that floods we're in serious trouble.

My gear is outside cooling down reading for some imaging later. 😀

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Well I won't be viewing for some time the wind and rain have penetrated the obey roof so the wife and me dismantelled

All my gear  today wii have to wait until the weather improves to fix it  and the garden is waterlogged

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3 hours ago, DaveL59 said:

no swampy issues, astro-turf can be handy sometimes, tho water sits above it in heavy rain so you have to tip-toe across if you want to not get the ends of your jeans soaking up the water. All cloud again here tho after a fairly nice day, oh well...

Jeans, Dave. Letting the side down a bit. No tweed suit and tie?

And the cap comes in handy for bailing out water.

🙂

45D4B269-CB38-4B04-85DB-752C59F69265.jpeg.613627d772fc1076f69e582c6888078a.jpeg

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Just now, JeremyS said:

Jeans, Dave. Letting the side down a bit. No tweed suit and tie?

And the cap comes in handy for bailing out water.

🙂

45D4B269-CB38-4B04-85DB-752C59F69265.jpeg.613627d772fc1076f69e582c6888078a.jpeg

well jeans yeah, tis a wee bit too cauld for the kilt 😉 

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I can't see Napa Valley hills from my 55 yards observing tower (50km distance). So the visibility is poor for planets while DSOs are not worth it in 10km vicinity from San Francisco downtown, the Moon is already high as well, and there are no "urgent events" in the sky either, so the scope stays put, but as it's warm and sunny I'd rather go surfing :)

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Two factors have brought me back in, well three I suppose: 

  1. The moon is bloody bright
  2. I've seen what I went out to see (Moon, Mars, Uranus... or what I think was Uranus, so it still counts 😁)
  3. It's bloody cold!!!

There's a very keen wind blowing, frequently nudging the scope which is already struggling with the altitude (Mars / Uranus are still quite high just now).  Five minutes and I start to feel my finger ends turning to ice, so cold to touch anything or even have my hands out of my pockets.  Despite several 'get warmed up in the coat room' sessions I just couldn't stand it anymore.  'Feels like' is -3C here according to the Met Office.

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1 hour ago, jonathan said:

Two factors have brought me back in, well three I suppose: 

  1. The moon is bloody bright
  2. I've seen what I went out to see (Moon, Mars, Uranus... or what I think was Uranus, so it still counts 😁)
  3. It's bloody cold!!!

There's a very keen wind blowing, frequently nudging the scope which is already struggling with the altitude (Mars / Uranus are still quite high just now).  Five minutes and I start to feel my finger ends turning to ice, so cold to touch anything or even have my hands out of my pockets.  Despite several 'get warmed up in the coat room' sessions I just couldn't stand it anymore.  'Feels like' is -3C here according to the Met Office.

Not sure it's allowed to give a feedback on this "sad" thread (I seem to be ruining the other "happy" thread doing that recently ;)). Just let me know.
But I used to observe in -30C winters in Siberia and know what that entails very well. So:

  1. Refuel. Get a decent piece of high calorie long burning meal (e.g. prior to all day diving in the Pacific I'm taking a serious chunk of well done ribeye with spaghetti for the brunch on the way to the diveshop). That would give you 3-4 hours of good inner heat source. For the short boost a sip of hot chocolate with milk from my 0.75L thermos saved many cold observing nights for me.
  2. Warm up. That means obvious vigorous exercises (like sit-ups,  or see here) for about 15 minutes prior to going out to boost your natural "heat distribution hydraulics" and the "engine". Run the "engine" periodically at the scope as well (I do every hour).
  3. Keep that heat for yourself. Think about your clothing out of the box. Your body must be insulated much better than for a regular winter walk as you are barely moving at the telescope. However, that might interfere with the 2 above, so the alternative option is (4):
  4. Add an artificial source of heat. E.g. an electric blanket wrapped around the body (there are 12V versions available too), chemical heating pads (that's what I have in my outdoors kit, reusable salt crystallization based, just for high altitude cold occasions, the large shoulder one runs for 3-4 hours). The only issue is that if the excess heat escapes uncontrollably it may affect your views if the hot stream of air intersects the light path (which is often the case for a typical Dob). So a windbreaker is a must (even without an artificial heater). You can always open it up to release the excess quickly if feeling really toasted.
  5. Reconsider your instrumentation. I saw a nice thread around here about gloves. I'm using fingertip-less gloves with the magnetic flip mitten pocket. Trust me that's the ultimate solution (given 1 and 2). However if your observing flow requires you to do something often with your bare hands, better start thinking how to eliminate that.

All of the above is very rewarding, as below 0C winter nights are commonly reported as clearer, steadier, and longer nights compared to warm summer nights.

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So, I did go out and I didn't get anywhere before getting soaked while getting the scope back in. It wasn't just a passing cloud! :(

Two points of note other than the shower: the Moon is bright and my mount is apparently poorly :(

 

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It's pretty clear outside now but it's also nearly 1am. Went out earlier and it was a cloudy mess, and I'm too tired to start faffing around with capture software. Hoping for clear skies this weekend maybe.

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10 hours ago, AlexK said:

Not sure it's allowed to give a feedback on this "sad" thread (I seem to be ruining the other "happy" thread doing that recently ;)). Just let me know.
But I used to observe in -30C winters in Siberia and know what that entails very well. So:

  1. Refuel. Get a decent piece of high calorie long burning meal (e.g. prior to all day diving in the Pacific I'm taking a serious chunk of well done ribeye with spaghetti for the brunch on the way to the diveshop). That would give you 3-4 hours of good inner heat source. For the short boost a sip of hot chocolate with milk from my 0.75L thermos saved many cold observing nights for me.
  2. Warm up. That means obvious vigorous exercises (like sit-ups,  or see here) for about 15 minutes prior to going out to boost your natural "heat distribution hydraulics" and the "engine". Run the "engine" periodically at the scope as well (I do every hour).
  3. Keep that heat for yourself. Think about your clothing out of the box. Your body must be insulated much better than for a regular winter walk as you are barely moving at the telescope. However, that might interfere with the 2 above, so the alternative option is (4):
  4. Add an artificial source of heat. E.g. an electric blanket wrapped around the body (there are 12V versions available too), chemical heating pads (that's what I have in my outdoors kit, reusable salt crystallization based, just for high altitude cold occasions, the large shoulder one runs for 3-4 hours). The only issue is that if the excess heat escapes uncontrollably it may affect your views if the hot stream of air intersects the light path (which is often the case for a typical Dob). So a windbreaker is a must (even without an artificial heater). You can always open it up to release the excess quickly if feeling really toasted.
  5. Reconsider your instrumentation. I saw a nice thread around here about gloves. I'm using fingertip-less gloves with the magnetic flip mitten pocket. Trust me that's the ultimate solution (given 1 and 2). However if your observing flow requires you to do something often with your bare hands, better start thinking how to eliminate that.

All of the above is very rewarding, as below 0C winter nights are commonly reported as clearer, steadier, and longer nights compared to warm summer nights.

Some very sage advice that I'm sure comes from experience.  At the moment I have chillblains (no doubt due to my poor circulation and an incorrect clothing choice when I went out to do some exercise in some deceptively cold sunshine a while ago) so my choices are limited right now especially when it comes to exercise, step at slightly the wrong angle and my toes will be in agony.  The fingerless gloves with mitt covers do sound appealing, however I am dubious of the electrically heated kind for safety, so many cheap knock-offs around it's difficult to distinguish which will have been properly tested, definitely do not want burnt hands from such a device, ditto an electric blanket (and I'm usually running on 6v for my medium mount).  I have some of those chemical heat packs, I just forget to use them!  I usually do wear extra layers (fleece, thick winter coat, woolly jumper) when observing.  No way to erect a windbreak if I'm on the hard driveway though, don't have one anyway.

I find that bare hands are the safest way to setup and take down a scope, the thought of it slipping through a pair of gloves is just... unthinkable.  Unfortunately that means touching very cold metal and can't really be avoided, the tactile feel and grip of bare fingers can't easily be replaced for me; I have tried expensive insulated tactile gloves, they just constricted the blood flow in my fingers such that they turned white.  I have big insulated windproof mittens now but my hands still get cold even in those, and obviously they are useless for doing anything with the hands.  I could be sitting in a room that's about 17-18C and have cold hands and feet, that's just how I am.

But still good advice which I'm sure will be helpful. :)

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Thank you, Jonathan. 
The "windbreaker" is how we call here a windproof layer of clothes (usually the outmost, like a parka) which is eliminating air intake/escape. I have a zippered double front flap, wrist and hips constriction corded, nose high collar with hood rubberized shell, in which I can almost lay down into the strong wind. The most efficient piece to fight the cold for me is my long micro-fleece balaklava.

OTOH, the cold and heat sensation is very individual, have you heard about the MIT developed device attached to your wrist and sending waves of heat and cold using a Peltier element and a microcontroller? It's effectively reducing or inhibiting these sensations in the entire body by command while touching your wrist on the inside only.

What you are doing to setup with your bare hands is exactly what I'm suggesting to optimize. E.g. you can get/make a wheeled system to move your rig out pre-assembled. If absolutely impossible (which is doubtful). I can see all the metal parts modified to reduce the cold choke. E.g. adding plastic sleeves/handles, also I have a can of spray rubber and can see covering the mount/OTA in strategic places not only to insulate it but also adding an ultimate grip (it's easy to remove later e.g. if the plan is to resale, though if you apply it in a quality way, using spray masking it might even add the value.

I have 3 electric blankets from China. All modern options are low voltage and very well made (I would say even overprotective).

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2 minutes ago, Mr Spock said:

What I have found lately is how warm face masks are. Maybe the next must-have astro accessory?

They are indeed. Trouble is my glasses mist up so I can’t see a bloomin’ thing. :) 

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1 hour ago, Ouroboros said:

They are indeed. Trouble is my glasses mist up so I can’t see a bloomin’ thing. :) 

Try the chunkier half-face masks if you want it for warmth, stuff like the 3M 6500 half-face respirators have a downward vent and a very good (comfy) seal that won't let air fog up your glasses. You'll have to tape some filter material over the exhaust to protect those around you, though, but comfy as heck for all day wear.

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It's actually clear here, but clouds/rain should be here in several hours.

But it's cold and muddy, and there is a nice warm fire in the wood stove 🙂

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On 21/01/2021 at 21:55, AlexK said:

Warm up. That means obvious vigorous exercises (like sit-ups,  or see here) for about 15 minutes 

Hang on, nobody told me anything about exercises. I thought I could just go and sit around for a few hours and watch the clouds go by. 

Took the dogs for a walk, thought yep this is happening tonight. By the time I got the mount out it had clouded over. By the time I had put it back to bed it had started raining..... 🤦‍♂️

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I'd be out tonight but there's still 4 inches of snow on my observatory roof and the runners are full of ice. A real shame as it's been pretty clear the last couple of nights. I'm going to make time to clear all the snow off tomorrow so if it's clear again I may get out.

Graeme

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The moon is killing the sky, I've been in the middle of totally redoing my house since Jan 5 and have 6 projects going at the same time. I'm old and fat and the scope is huge. And yes the low is 25F

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It does seem like all the clear nights we've gotten in the southern UK have coincided with bright full moons so far this year. Got the scope out last night and got some good imaging in for a few hours, at least, but contrast-wise it's nothing to write home about with that much background illumination.

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