Winter is here!

Winter has now arrived here in Sodankylä! During the nigh between 15/16.11. it started snowing, and there was a good snowcover on the ground in the morning! Snowing continued through the day, but it stopped in afternoon. The snowcover stayed there, it didn’t melt away, because air and especially the ground was already so cold that the snow didn’t melt away!

In yesterday evening (16.11.2011) sky got clear, but I wasn’t able to make observations before late evening – because I had to be working and practising floor hockey with the team of my company! After the practising, I decided to make at least some observations. This time I wasn’t observing my favourite stars, Z Uma and R Tri because I just observed those couple nights ago. This time I observed a variable in Ursa Minor, a star called U Umi. This is a tricky star to find – there are not man bright stars near this one, and that’s why it is not one of the easiest that there are in the sky. This is also the reason for the fact that I havent’t been observing this star in many weeks. Anyway, now I observed it, and I noted that the brightness of this star has dropped from 9.8 to 11.1 – so it is getting fainter!

One thing that is making winter time observing especially challenging is of course coldness – but also snow on the grund. First of all, it is reflecting light in the sky and making the background sky lighter, which means that the observing conditions tend to be worse in winter than in autumn. Another thing is coldness caused by the snow – when observing, I’m much in my knees, and when there is snow on the ground, it makes my knees feel very cold, which is a bit uncofortable. I have been thinking a solution for this problem, one possibility could be using some knee covers made of somekind of soft special plastic that has insulating characteristics. Suitable material for this might be a piece of camping matress that they are selling in outdoors -and sport stores.

So, this was my first observation with snow on the ground during this season!

Observing session: #22/11-12
Date: 16/17.11.2011
Time: 23.00-00.00
Place: Sodankylä, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm
Objects observed: U Umi
Conditions: NELM: 5.7, SQM: 19.67, -3 °C, mostly clear sky, calm, no aurorae, 68% Moon in east at altitude of 18°, snow on the ground!

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