Get ready for the chilly new as­tron­omy sea­son with our guide to beat­ing the cold

Sky at Night Magazine - - CONTENTS -

How to keep your scope and, more im­por­tantly, your­self warm on chilly win­ter nights.

As­tron­omy is a tough pur­suit to dress for be­cause there tend to be brief amounts of stren­u­ous ac­tiv­ity set­ting up, then hours of stand­ing about. We’ve all ex­pe­ri­enced the frus­tra­tion of hav­ing to aban­don a po­ten­tially amaz­ing night of as­tron­omy be­cause our bod­ies can take no more bat­ter­ing from the el­e­ments.

Plan­ning is key. Wrap your­self in mul­ti­ple thin lay­ers, as this traps warm air more ef­fec­tively than one thick jumper. It also means you can peel off a few lay­ers if you get too warm, some­thing you may need to do if you find your­self with a rapid heart rate and feel­ing weak while sweat­ing – a sign, iron­i­cally, of heat ex­haus­tion caused by wrap­ping up too warm. An­other is­sue that can catch you out is wind chill, when the ac­tual am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture is not par­tic­u­lary low but the whip­ping wind low­ers your body warmth.

I per­son­ally avoid scarves and bal­a­clavas. I’ve had many a bad ex­pe­ri­ence with the vapour from my breath con­dens­ing on their ma­te­rial, which then causes dis­com­fort as the mois­ture cools next to your skin. If you have a good hat and down jacket, I find that rais­ing the hood is good enough to keep you warm.

The fol­low­ing is a guide to the kind of cloth­ing that should keep you warm on a win­ter’s night, but the best ad­vice is to shop around and see what you can find. Above all keep warm, stay safe and en­joy the longer nights that lie ahead.

1 Hat Kar­ri­mor ther­mal hat £7.99 • www.kar­ri­ A ther­mal hat is a good choice as it will cover your head and ears and keep them warm, but thin enough that you can still pull your hood up. I avoid wa­ter­proof ma­te­ri­als as I find them un­com­fort­able when wear­ing them for longer pe­ri­ods of time. 2 Down jacket Rab Asy­lum Jacket £200 • www.rab.equip­ment/uk Down is per­fect for stargaz­ing: in terms of warmth for weight, you can’t beat it. Go with higher qual­ity fill, as cheap down jack­ets of­ten con­tain more feath­ers, which re­duces their abil­ity to trap air, low­er­ing their in­su­la­tion value. This model is warm and com­fort­able, with a col­lar you can zip up to cover your mouth and nose. 3 Wind­proof jacket The North Face Apex Flex GTX £250 • www.thenorth­ Make the dis­tinc­tion be­tween wind­proof and wa­ter­proof: if you’re stand­ing in the rain you’re do­ing as­tron­omy wrong! You want ma­te­rial that breathes well and is com­fort­able to wear for longer pe­ri­ods of time. Con­sider buy­ing one size too big so that it can fit over mul­ti­ple lay­ers. 4 Gloves Mon­tane Wind­jam­mer Glove £45 • www. mon­ It’s dif­fi­cult to strike a bal­ance be­tween keep­ing your hands warm and be­ing able to hit small but­tons on your mount’s con­trol pad. The gloves you choose will de­pend on how much you need to work with the more fid­dly as­pects of prac­ti­cal as­tron­omy. These ones are de­signed to pre­vent wind chill and keep your fin­gers dex­trous. 5 Wind­proof trousers Spray­way Men’s All Day Rain­pant £80 • www.spray­ Go with soft­shell, which will be very wind and wa­ter re­sis­tant and great for keep­ing you warm. These trousers are breath­able and com­fort­able as they are made from stretchy, flex­i­ble ma­te­rial. The in­ner lin­ing also means they can be quickly pulled on as over-trousers or worn on their own. 6 Boots Scarpa Delta GTX Ac­tiv £220 • Boots are a very per­sonal thing. A rec­om­men­da­tion can only speak to the qual­ity and in­tended use, but com­fort and fit is ev­ery bit as im­por­tant as get­ting some­thing ap­pro­pri­ate for the task at hand. These come with aut­ofit foam in­serts in the heel and can be laced up to the an­kle for sup­port.

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