Saturday, January 26, 2013

Propagation Goes Away But The Sun Slowly Returns

Very Brief View of the Sun
I saw something today I had not seen for many weeks and that was a brief encounter with the sun! We are in the shadow of Mount Healy (at the right side of this photo) so this time of year, any direct sunlight is short lived. But, in just a few more weeks, the sun will be high enough to shine down on us for at least half of the afternoon. Winters are long and dark here in Alaska, but seeing this does the body good! I snapped this photograph from our front deck looking south east. We are experiencing the coldest temperatures of 2013 as our low last night was around -32.6F. As of this writing, it has warmed up to -26.5F, but tonight was supposed to be the coldest of the weekend. 

This past Thursday night (Friday morning) I pointed the beam to Europe and was able to work about 45 stations prior to pulling the plug. It was great to catch David, A92GE again. I'm very appreciative of all those who yelled my way as I had a small pile-up going. Sadly, an early rise for work the following morning had me pull the plug long before the pile-up had dwindled down. I was hoping to do the same over the weekend but our solar wind increase put the kibosh to that idea. But on a positive note, I did manage to work Carl, 9X0PY for a new entity this weekend! 

HAARP Magnetometer 
I reference HAARP on a daily basis just to get an idea of what I may expect propagationally. When a solar wind struck the earths magnetic field this weekend, it sent shock waves through the ionosphere and the propagation headed south. Pretty obvious from the HAARP Magnetometer graph to the right that we received a pretty healthy solar slap from our sun. I have not heard much of anything on the bands this weekend and this is the very reason. It's great having these websites only a mouse click away. Saves me a cold stroll outdoors checking connections and antennas as I wonder why I'm not hearing a ham on a band!

HAARP Riometer
When it comes to propagation, absorption is our enemy. The HAARP Riometer graph to the left shows heavy absorption therefore, any radio waves overhead are not bouncing but being absorbed. As I've mentioned before, "Red = Dead" when it comes to this graph. And oddly enough, these events normally happen on contest weekends. I can't imagine this did any favors to anyone in a northern latitude operating the ARRL 160 Meter Contest this weekend. I don't have an antenna for that band so you won't find me in that contest. I would love to operate that band someday so, it's on my bucket list. 

Another highlight for me this past weekend was contacting Walt, LW3EX who gave me my final SKCC K3Y DX station contact. I had been missing only South America and Walt had his usual great signal into Alaska which allowed me to wrap up my Grand Sweep. Sadly, January has been an exceptionally busy month for me so I have not been able to operate much as K3Y/KL7. But, WL7WH and KL7IDA are doing a great job sending Alaska QSO's to those in need. 

As February fast approaches, I can't help but get excited about two fun contests that month. CQ WPX RTTY Contest is first and I think I've recovered enough from the last RTTY contest to diddle again. The following weekend will be the ARRL CW DX Contest. Another one of my all time favorites for sure. So, I'm hoping the sun settles down during the month of February as not to ruin either of those contest weekends. With any luck, my low power signal will make it out of the 49th and be heard around the globe! 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Phil,

    Congratulations on the SKCC contacts! Bert is the only EU contact for me but I'm always listening. Switzerland was an eye popper for me this morning. I can never figure out just exactly what propagation will bring, so give it my best shot and hope for success.

    Thanks for the tip tho...there's good stuff there!