There are two main reasons why people leave observing sessions early:
- the weather deteriorates
- they get cold.
The latter can be avoided by a bit of planning and raiding the winter wardrobe.
Firstly your feet. Wear waterproof, at least ankle high footwear with a thick sole. Slightly oversize footwear can help so that you can wear multiple pairs of sockets and still move your toes. The sapping effect of cold ground can be reduced by bringing along a camping mat and standing on it.
Secondly your head. Woolly hats or similar are a must. They should cover your ears and if you are susceptible to the cold, bring Siberian rated head gear covering the back of the neck and all the way to your cheeks. Essentially any of those terrible birthday/Christmas hat gifts are usually perfect.
Thirdly you fingers. Woollen gloves are great but they make it hard to use telescopes and binoculars. You can choose thinsulate ones or, my preference, fingerless gloves.
Finally, the rest of you. Wear lots of layers and that includes your legs. Camping shops sell thermal under-trousers which are a must. My preference is to raid the skiing gear and wear salopettes as well; waterproof and warm. The use of multiple layers mean you can remove some if you are too warm during the evening or add more if it gets more chilly. Astronomy is quite a sedentary passtime and so unlike other outdoor activities you’ll get colder unless you wrap up well. Even if you plan to go out for an hour, dress so that you aren’t going to be limited by the cold. You don’t want to abandon a night of near perfect seeing due to the potential onset of hypothermia.
My clothing list:
- 1 pair of thermal socks (wicking);
- 1 pair of thick thermal socks;
- 1 pair of walking boots (half size too big);
- 1 pair of thermal under-trousers;
- 1 pair of ordinary trousers;
- 1 pair of salopettes (optional);
- 1 cotton t-shirt;
- 1 long sleeved thermal top (wicking);
- 1 thermal top (optional);
- 1 fleece;
- 1 waterproof jacket (shell only);
- 1 pair of fingerless gloves;
- 1 thermal hat;
- Spare 1 fleece (optional);
- Spare 1 pair of gloves (in case of loss);
- Spare woollen hat (in case of loss);