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Brandon

How cold is too cold for observing?

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I live in Canada so it's pretty cold up here and for most of the winter it is almost too cold (for me) to observe without freezing to death.

I just want to know what sort of 'rule of thumb' you guys go by to determine whether it is too cold to go out. I used to stay inside if the temperature is anything less than -6C but I was just out at -10C and it wasn't so bad.

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For me it depends on the humidity and whether or not there's any air movement. During my last session (Feb 2) i was out for about 4 hours when it was 6F (-15C) and could have stayed out longer if not for the slight but persistant breeze. It was dry though, no frost on the scope... that was a bit nice.

Basically i can stay out much longer with the Dob (bought last summer) than i'd ever been able to stay out with my other scopes in the last 10 years. The mounts on my other scopes start to get a bit sluggish when the temp gets down to about 20F (-7C) and the worm gear in the 8"SCT stops when it's about 10F (-12C) or so, even though i removed all of the factory 'glue' and replaced it with snowmobile grease. The GEM starts feeling fairly sluggish when the temp gets down to about 15F (9C)... haven't regreased that one yet, but now that i've got the Dob, there's really no reason to. :rolleyes:

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If I feel too cold I'll stop. I have no idea at what temperature that is though. But, being in the UK, it isn't going to be much below -5 Celsius at the coldest.

With the purchase of my observatory :rolleyes: , it may be possible to remain warmer, and it'll certainly help when it's breezy.

Edited by yeti monster

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As Carol says, it depends. I'm fine at -10 C if it's not windy. Even a little wind really chills you at those temperatures. I've heard that a snowmobile suit is a great observing accessory for those cold nights. I don't have one, but I can vouch for a down jacket and insulated hiking boots.

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Down jacket, ice fishing boots and insulated ski pants for me.. and a fur hat.

It must look like i'm going on an Antarctic expedition, lol. :rolleyes:

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It rarely gets too cold in these parts for staying outside all night. Many nights - even in February - sandals, shorts, and t-shirt are sufficient. We do get cold nights in the 20's Fahrenheit for lows but rarely in the teens. There are so few of those nights, however, that I just pass on viewing. If there were some rare viewing opportunity, I'd just layer on a windsuit over sweatpants and tough it out. :rolleyes:

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I dont actually observe/image that often so I have a bit of a problem that I am capable of ignoring the cold until its too late, I dont have the experience to know when to pay attention to my nerve endings :rolleyes:

I dont really realise that because of my 'outside the back door, lenses in the kitchen' set up, by the time I give up to come in, I am frozen and so is the rest of my house, including all my previously warm clothes.

Last time turned out to be minus 8 C. I would say for me that is the limit. At those temps you need a nice warm place to retreat to, without that its really hard to shake off the cold.

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well I've been out the other night at -21C, and I had to put quite some effort and force into manually moving my HEQ5, so I'd think that's the limit for me.. don't know if it's the grease acting up, or just the metal itself shrinking after cooling.

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As the temp drops the amount of kit you can cope with reduces ... abandon the heavy stuff, abandon the stuff with long cool down times (it will never get close to ambient). Surely it's better to get short sessions with a small "spotting scope" or binoculars on a simple undriven altaz mount than it is to give up altogether?

However clothing is they key ... if you're too cold, your clothing is inadequate. Being too warm before you start - and therefore destroying the insulating propoerties of the inner layers by getting it clogged with sweat - is the one sure way to be uncomfortable.

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The Blazewear heated jackets from FLO really do work. Some other things, like electric filter wheels, may stop working but not the dedicated astronomer!!!

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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Temperatures below -15C begin to cause problems for electronics and lubrication turn to be glue. Hands and feets are most difficult to keep warm, spesially fingers. If you have to touch any metal below -20 temps, it feels like touching something hot. Maximum for me has been -28C with dobson. Less than -10C ..good observing weather, almost heaven for Finns:D

In this picture, -17C 12.feb. (fur hat is fake fur)

IMG_5178.JPG

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Great photo, Ransu!

My record is minus 11 C, unusually cold where I live, it was okay with all the thermal gear on.

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But, being in the UK, it isn't going to be much below -5 Celsius at the coldest.

Where were you all December Yeti???? It was down to -15°c here in the midlands, and down to -18.6°c in Evesham :rolleyes:

I know what you guys mean about the cold though, on those really cold nights I pull an extra duvet on the bed as I lie there controlling the observatory remotely... :eek:

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