Sky at Night Magazine - - INTERACTIVE -

Sto­ries and strange tales from the world of ama­teur as­tron­omy by Jonathan Pow­ell

Tis the sea­son for Christ­mas jumpers, hats and gloves! All of which are very wel­come when ob­serv­ing on a cold win­ter’s night. How­ever, many moons ago, I spot­ted in a shop win­dow a prod­uct la­belled as a hand-warm­ing de­vice. Think­ing this would be a great astro­nom­i­cal ac­ces­sory, I duly pur­chased it. The ‘hand warmer’ was in fact sev­eral char­coal-coloured flat sticks, each mea­sur­ing about five inches long, wrapped in a small poly­thene sheath! It tran­spired that the sticks needed to be placed in a far more ex­pen­sive pouch that al­lowed the heat to be emit­ted safely. D’oh! So, if you’re buy­ing things to warm the hands of the as­tronomer in your life this Christ­mas, gloves are a safer bet. They shouldn’t cost the Earth and in­deed, they won’t burn a hole in your pocket!

Jonathan Pow­ell is the as­tron­omy cor­re­spon­dent for the South Wales Ar­gus

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