An End to Cold Fingers?
I think I may have come across a solution to the problem of cold fingers when observing. Once a part of your anatomy gets cold, there are only two ways to warm it up: an external source of heat or physical activity. The real answer is to never let any part of your body get cold in the first place. Any time you have to take off your gloves, you expose your hands to the cold, and your fingers are one of the weakest links.
Last month I was out bicycle riding on a cold day (30o, 20mph wind) and had to stop to make an adjustment. I was wearing full-fingered bicycle riding gloves and decided to see if I could do it without removing the gloves. To my surprise, I was able to dig through my tool kit and pick up even small allen wrenches while wearing these gloves. I then decided to try them while observing. Again, I found there was nothing I couldn't do while wearing the gloves, including turning set screws, operating a digital camera, and flipping the pages of a laminated Tirion 2000 atlas.
The ones I have are called "Crosswind Windstopper" gloves with a Gore windstopper fleece and lightly padded palm. I purchased them at Performance Bicycle (a national chain), though similar products are available at other bike shops. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of glove, one thing that helps with manipulating small items is that the palms and fingers are made of a material that helps in maintaining a grip on the handlebars...in other words, there's a sort of "stickiness" to it. Just make sure you get a pair of gloves that doesn't have a lot of padding, which would lessen the tactile sensation when handling your telescope. These gloves are too thin to keep your hands warm for a prolonged period in sub-freezing temperatures, but they can be worn under large protective mittens or gloves.Published in the February 2002 issue of the NightTimes