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M54
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Post by M54 »

You won't have a problem with Alpkit, other then getting hold of one. They only get a limited number made and these tend to disappear fast, many will have been ordered, and the people waiting for them, before they ever get to the UK. My first one I placed the order for some 10-12 weeks before it arrived.

They do not import all year round, what arrives in the next week will be all for this year. So if you decide to go for one then do it quick.

Ring them and ask the situation, found them helpful.

Originally (2-3 years back) they only did the jackets in Black only, now they come in about 6 colours. I suspect that the one colour option meant the cost was kept low, think mine cost £70 or £75. I notice that some of the colours don't sell quite as quick.
dualyn
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Post by dualyn »

Thanks for the good advice on that Starmap,like you say you can't be to careful mate.


Best Regards Duane.
dazcaz
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Post by dazcaz »

You don't need to spend a lot of money to keep warm in the UK.. But you might need to throw out a few inhibitions...

Tights
Ladies tights. Those thick opaque ones. Brilliant at keeping you warm in cold winter nights. Worn underneath tight fitting trousers.

I cycle a lot and when it's really cold, I wear tights under my cycle shorts. Over these shorts I wear cycling "tights"... these are the tight fitting "legging" like trousers that runners and cyclist wear.

Also a tight fitting T-shirts... long sleeved... Again, my cycling jerseys keep me very warm with a decent jacket.
A decent jumper or two on top really helps.

Keep you feet warm. Socks over tights in warm, thick soled shoes really help.

Basically keep your clothing as close fitting as possible and then put layers on over the top.

I spent my apprenticeship working in freezing cold (cold) steel mills. A lot of the guys used to wear their wive's tights to work in the winter.It takes a bit of bottle at first, and asking your wife/partner might be, shall we say, interesting, but they really do help keep cold at bay.

Also, avoid alcohol. A shot of whisky might be "warming" at first, but it soon has the opposite effect and you really start to feel the cold a bit later.

So, it's tights, socks, tight legging type trousers, Long sleeved T-shirts, jumpers, and finally a hat, ideally one that can be pulled down over your ears.


HTH
I once came last in an astronomy competition.
I was awarded a constellation prize


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David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

I looked at the jacket/anorak I have now.
It is a Bush Thermore Canadian item bought in a sale at the local menswear shop. It is warm at least in the U.K. And the hood is very warm. The cuffs can be closed and it has full flaps to cover the mouth.
It has a good zip plus push studs as well and everything can be sealed with these studs or short straps.
It has many pockets inside and out. It might suit someone out to pinch fish that they shouldn't.
It is very comfortable and looks good as well.
I don't think it is properly waterproof though.
Birdwatchers I think use Argentine maybe something like Peramo clothing. This might be waterproof?
However, astronomers don't observe in the rain, and like binoculars clothes don't really need to be waterproof.

I asked my Swedish friend to confirm the cost of the down jackets and he said £400 or £500 and upwards. He has about four bought cheaply over the years.
The reason they are so expensive is that they have the certificate of ethical collection of the goose feathers.
Unfortunately some of the goose down feathers used in common down jackets are harvested in cruel ways, and Swedes are concerned about such matters.

I did notice in the newspaper own ads that they sell boots with folding ice metal 'studs'
Also Clifford James.
These were about £20, and also two types of slip on studded bases for shoes or maybe boots.

Finally, in the U.K. such items are sold with these metal points at the heel where they need to be.
Previously items were sold with only sole grips. These are useless as when you slip it is the heel that gives way and turns you upside down.
So you must have the grips or studs at the heel. Having them also at the sole is a bonus. But sole only grips are dangerous and next to useless.

It is good that others here have given such valuable advice from their own experience
No SPA astronomer needs to feel really cold any more.
Thanks.

Incidentally the other danger when observing in severe cold say minus 20C and below is that you hands or even eyelids can get stuck to the metal.
So you have to prevent this happening.

Regards, David
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Paramo is the name of the birdwatcher's clothing.
Maybe a British company with a factory in Colombia, and designed for use in the Andes.
I think its main asset is waterproofing.

Regarding tights for warm clothing use in cold conditions.
That is fine.
There is just one point to note.
Nylon stockings on their own have had problems in extreme cold, say minus 25C or below.
There were cases were the nylon somehow froze onto the legs and caused serious limb damage.
In the U.K. I don't think the temperature would reach that low or that ladies would wear them at such low temperatures.

If going to countries with extreme cold weather the best thing is to consult the natives regarding what to wear.
For astronomers the local astronomical societies in those countries will advise.
Also find out from local outdoor people such as traffic police or forestry workers what they wear.
Also it can take several weeks to really acclimatise.

It can get very cold in the U.K. from a combination of low temperature, damp conditions and wind.
So our weather needs to be taken seriously also.

It is also advisable to know what materials are used in the clothing.

Regards, David
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Regarding wearing nylon stockings on the legs and no other layers.

I recall better from the 1960s.
Youngsters including young ladies had a custom of standing in long queues outside popular clubs and just hanging around outside in temperatures of around minus 25C in Finland.
What probably happened was that rather than 'melting' into the skin the nylons froze on the skin and in some unfortunate cases irreversible frostbite occurred.
This had very serious consequences.
I cannot recall if alcohol played a part.

I have not heard of similar cases in the U.K.
But in Finland minus 25C was common and sometimes it was much colder.

Tights existed in the 1960s so I cannot recall whether the problem was due to nylon stockings or nylon tights.
Later when people were aware of these dangers I think there were fewer or no further serious problems. But with alcohol involved it is all too easy to spend hours outside without being aware.

Regards, David
dazcaz
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Post by dazcaz »

Another tip...
Set yourself time limits when it gets really cold.
I spent a good chunk of my life installing and repairing coldrooms.
Some of these went down to -40, most blast freezeers went down to -32. The average chiller was set to about 3 deg C.

Chillers required no special clothing for short periods, but some of the chillers we built we so large you could drive lorries into them.
Thick coats and gloves were the standard for long periods inside these.

Freezers were a different kettle of fish.
We were only allowed 15 minutes inside a freezer, with at least 5 minutes outside back in the warm. We wore seriously thick and padded (puffa) coats, and full thermal underwear with loads of layers on top. Even with this, at -32, 15 minutes is a bloody long time, and trying to wire lights, and control gear in this was hard... Fingers don't work too well at -32, and wiring with gloves on isn't easy :)

So if outside in the cold set yourself time limits. You will know when you are starting to get chilled. When this happens get in the warm. This need only be for a few minutes, then go back out and continue. Over time you will learn how long to spend outside, and how long to spend inside.
The big problem with this is your night vision will get ruined, but it's worth it if you stay safe and warm.

We rarely see minus temperatures in double figures here in the UK. So for our climate, you do not need "specialist" clothing. A tight fitting base layer is the main weapon in your armoury against the cold.
Keep your feet warm... I find once my feet get cold, I start getting cold all over... Keep my feet warm and the rest of me feels warmer, even if it's not :)

Don't go out and spend a fortune on cold weather gear. It's really not necessary in the UK.
I once came last in an astronomy competition.
I was awarded a constellation prize


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David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Thanks for that Dazcaz.
I agree with what you say.
Outside there is the added problem of windchill. I don't know if you get that in industrial freezers.
I know freeze dried coffee places are cold.

One tip is to dress with the full gear on and wait a few minutes indoors until you feel nicely warm and then go out. Don't just dress and go straight out.

I have spent all night in the observatory in Helsinki at minus 15C and perhaps an hour at minus 20C.
At minus 34C I was out for over an hour and my Minolta SRT 303B worked perfectly. I had to remove my gloves taking the photos.
My Finnish friends have been out all night at minus 37C wearing many layers of clothes, but they know what they are doing. They were photographing Aurorae.
I think the Canadians still supply Nikon FM2 film cameras to people like police as they apparently always work.

I frequently used to get onto any tram going anywhere in Helsinki just to get out of the cold and the wind at around minus 27C.

However, cold related deaths in the Nordic countries are probably less percentage wise than the deaths from the cold in the U.K. This is pretty scandalous.
Also the heating bills are also probably less as they know how to insulate.

Regards, David
dazcaz
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Post by dazcaz »

We don't get wind chill in the freezers.... Not unless you are next to the "blowers" :)

I love the way that the UK gets an inch of snow and the whole country stops, yet some countries get 2 feet of snow fall over night and al the busses run, the roads stay open and everyone gets to work.
I cycled to work back when we had the snow... OK it nearly killed my, but it was fun and I got in. Others, in their cars, stayed in bed!

I am pleased to say that my job now is in the warm, dry and it's clean, and we have a planetarium :)

My days of cold steel mills and blast freezers are long behind me :)
I once came last in an astronomy competition.
I was awarded a constellation prize


Skywatcher Explorer 200 HEQ5
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dualyn
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Post by dualyn »

Thanks very much lads,i appreciate this advice very much and have picked up quite a few good tips from you all.
My wife has ordered me an all in one base layer from a company in Leicester,so they should arrive shortly.
I used to wear ladies tights when i was observing on cold nights which did the job,only thing was answering the call of nature.
Still these things are sent to try us are they not.
Again folks thanks very much.

Best Regards Duane.
Celestron CPC 800 GPS XLT,10"Dob,Revelation 20x80 and Helios 12x40 Bins,Lots of E/P's inc 13-24mm Hyperions,lots of filters,8"dewcap,etc.
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David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Must admit I never wore ladies tights. I think my girlfriend might have given me funny looks.
Mind you to her minus 44C was commonplace.
She also met a bear in the forest.
Finns are often out for hours cross country skiing in very low temperatures.

I did at one point share a flat with a Finnish farmer's son. He had the flat at plus 30C and outside it could be minus 27C fairly often.
This change of temperature is normal for many Finns, but I never could get used to these enormous temperature changes.
And in Sauna the temperature tops 100C, and another astronomer friend could be there for an hour.
An english doctor I knew said it is impossible to survive such temperatures.
I gave him a book on Sauna, but he never admitted he was wrong.
There is a layer of air around your body that stops this heat causing damage.
Don't do this, but if you blow on someone in the Sauna they can get burnt quickly as you displace this layer of air.

I agree with the comment that if your feet and boots are warm you feel warm and if your feet are cold you feel cold.
So the place to start is with warm footwear.
I used soft leather fur lined boots with an additional reflective metal type inner insole and zip.
Plus the addition of a rotating heel spike.

The type of sole is important for grip.

Hakkapelitta finnish made tyres have tremendous cold weather grip as they are made of special rubber.
However, in warm conditions they wear unacceptably fast.
I think it might be something like high hysteresis? rubber.
Plus of course studs in double rows on the outer tread and plain rubber in the middle.

Cold weather was interesting and quite an event on my first really cold winter.

And the auroral displays and particularly halo or parhelic phenomena that accompany the cold are just breathtaking.

Regards, David
dualyn
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Post by dualyn »

I must admit i never knew that about saunas,quite scary really.At the same time i hope i never experience -44 degrees David.Those tyres seem a sound investment as well.Probably expensive too.
Ah well thats life.

Regards Duane
Celestron CPC 800 GPS XLT,10"Dob,Revelation 20x80 and Helios 12x40 Bins,Lots of E/P's inc 13-24mm Hyperions,lots of filters,8"dewcap,etc.
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David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Duane,
The normal Sauna is around 80C, but my friend liked the traditional and very hot type.
I did not really like Sauna much, but to Finns it is an essential part of life for relaxation and inner peace and something deeply respected..

I had an American professional diver friend who swam daily in holes in the sea ice. He always carried a large knife strapped to his leg and depth meter and watch. The knife cut him free of several discarded underwater nets.

He was super strong and big.
Once he jumped into a frozen river and saved a large dog iced in, trapped and half frozen to death.
An ordinary person would not have survived but he knew he could do this.
The dog forever after treated him as a friend.

For me my main photographic pursuit was photographing perhaps a hundred Auroral displays and also parhelia, but the all sky ones are difficult as you need an 8mm full circle 180 degree fisheye lens on 35mm. I only had a fisheye converter that fitted on my 50mm standard lens. It was a bit slow but worked.
I left lenses in my car but this fisheye converter not Minoltas own, but maybe Paragon shattered at minus 29C overnight.
I think the metal cell contracted and shattered the deeply curved glass.
All the Minolta equipment coped pefectly down to minus 34C. As did other friends Minolta, Nikon and Canon film equipment. They used this down to minus 40C or minus 40F, where the two scales meet.
Try that with modern digital.

Nowadays I feel the cold and am a bit of a wimp.
You are only young once really.

Regards, David
dualyn
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Post by dualyn »

I think we're both in the same boat David age wise,but i must admit they are pretty diverse temps.By the way i finally got an all in one base layer from BritishThermals.com they are in Leicester.
Hopefully now observing should be that little more bearable.
That part about your friend the diver was interesting,boy he must be really fit and healthy to do stuff like that.
My hat goes off to him rescueing the little dog,the Wife and i are confirmed animal lovers,well done that man.

Anyway David speak to you soon take care clear skies.

Best Regards Duane.
Celestron CPC 800 GPS XLT,10"Dob,Revelation 20x80 and Helios 12x40 Bins,Lots of E/P's inc 13-24mm Hyperions,lots of filters,8"dewcap,etc.
A PATIENT WIFE.
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Hi Duane,
Unfortunately my friend passed away about 15 years ago.
He was a U.S. Navy diver at the end of WW2 in the Pacific. Some horrifying tales. I think they used the Royal Navy tables for time, depths etc.

Then he was a movie camera man.
He told me the time Marilyn Monroe asked him on a date, but he said no. This was before she was well known. I think he regretted that.

He had a sea going Kayak and he took me on a trip to a fine holiday island about 1.5 miles from Helsinki. He insisted I try padddling but I could hardly get it going.
He was 6ft 4 and very strong and when he paddled the Kayak really moved.
He was probably three times my strength.

Because of his knowledge of deep sea diving and conditioning because of ice swimming he thought he could rescue the dog, perhaps an alsation, a big dog.

My friend was then maybe sixty years old.
There was a whole group of people but nobody could get to the dog or save it. He knew the risks and stripped off some clothes and went in the river and freed the dog by brute force. The rear half of the dog was completely frozen and it was not known if the dog could survive even if freed. I suppose if my friend needed help they might have found a rope but he did the whole rescue himself.
Frozen rivers are treacherous and very dangerous as the river flows below the ice, and the ice thickness constantly varies.
Every year people drown in Finland either walking or driving on frozen rivers.
In Oulu in the north when I was there it was minus 25C and I took fine Aurorae photos some of which were published.
The is a small stream there and even at minus 25C you could see the water flowing under the ice top of the stream. Very dangerous.
I frequently drove over the sea ice to neighbouring islands on marked out sea roads.
In really cold winters a road is made across the sea to Sweden about 40 miles maybe. Large trucks use it.
The Finnish built ice breaking ferries I think are class 3 or 3a or something. The ferries operate year round normally.
They also built I think Queen Mary 2 and other 150,000 to 200,000 tonne cruise ships.
They have advanced design.

When I first went on a Finnish Ferry in the 1960s I could not believe it. It was forty years ahead of the Brittish ferries across the channel to France, Belgium and Holland.
Also the design of Swedish and Finnish buildings were forty years ahead of us.
We are terribly backward.
Helsinki is heated by superheated steam from the power station miles away. It condenses and all the homes have really hot water and heating.
It costs half of what we pay with inefficient individual central heating.
I think maybe Milton Keynes might have district heating here.
Again we are completely backward.
The trams in Helsinki always run whatever the weather.

In the summer months I used to photograph almost nightly Noctilucent clouds which can be very beautiful.

Nice times.

Happy New Year.

Regards, David
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