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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who recently shared one of Tamitha Skov’s space weather forecast videos.
Over the past few years, I’ve watched Dr. Skov’s weekly video forecasts to better understand the implications of incoming CMEs, solar winds, sun spots (or lack thereof) and geomagnetic storms. While her videos include a lot of technical details, they’re also much easier to understand than the typical propagation forecast. Plus, her videos they’re chock-full of solar imagery and animations.
This weekend, for example, we’re going to experience some disruptions to HF propagation. Yesterday, solar wind speed soared to 704–and at time of publishing this post it’s 721 km/sec (thanks for noting, Mike!).
Dr. Skov explains it all in her latest space weather video:
The Sun has likely already entered into a new unpredicted long-term phase of its evolution as a hydrogen-burning main sequence star — one characterized by magnetic sputtering indicative of a more quiescent middle-age. Or so say the authors of a new paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Using observations of other sunlike stars made by NASA ’s Kepler Space Telescope, the team found that the Sun is currently in a special phase of its magnetic evolution.
At time of posting (June 28, 2016) the Sun has no Sun spots at all, which means very low solar activity. Credit: SDO/HMI (Click to enlarge)
Heretofore, the Sun was thought to have been just a more slowly rotating version of a normal yellow dwarf (G-spectral type) star. These results offer the first real confirmation that the Sun is in the process of crossing into its magnetic middle age, where its 11-year Sunspot cycles are likely to slowly disappear entirely. That is, from here on out, the Sun is likely to have fewer sunspots than during the first half of its estimated 10 billion year life as a hydrogen-burning star.
“The Sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle is likely to disappear entirely, not just get less pronounced; [since] other stars with similar rotation rates show no sunspot cycles,” Travis Metcalfe, the paper’s lead author and an astronomer at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., told me.[…]
(Source: NASA) The geomagnetic storm began as forecasted and quickly ramped up to severe (G4) levels. In Europe watchers should be looking for the aurora now and there is hope for those over the US tonight.
Depending on where you live, this G4 geomagnetic storm may completely disrupt the HF band conditions. From Spaceweather.com:
SEVERE GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS: A severe G4-class geomagnetic storm is in progress on June 22nd. This follows a series of rapid-fire CME strikes to Earth’s magnetic field during the past 24 hours. Magnetic fields in the wake of the latest CME are strongly coupled to Earth’s own magnetic field. This is a condition that could sustain the geomagnetic storm for many hours to come. High- and mid-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight, especially during the hours around local midnight.
On the up side, after this is over, there may be some excellent, short-term band openings. My buddy, David Goren, also reminds us that this is a good time to keep an eye on the broadcast bands for auroral conditions.
The sun has erupted with its first X-class solar flare of 2015, a not-so-subtle reminder that it can still muster the energy required to generate the most powerful class of solar explosion.
The magnetic eruption occurred yesterday (Wednesday) at 12:22 p.m. ET (16:22 UT), lighting up a huge area in the lower solar corona (the sun’s magnetically dominated ‘atmosphere’). Shortly after the huge eruption, that measured X2 on the scale of flare energy, Spaceweather.com reports a radio blackout was detected over large swathes of the globe, including much of the Americas.
“The X-flare scrambled the ionosphere thoroughly so that no decametric radio signals were supported in my part of the world,” said amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft. “The ionosphere started to reform after about fifteen minutes when stations began to reappear. (The stuff visible during the blackout was my own observatory electricity. Nothing exterior.)”
Based in New Mexico, Ashcraft reports that the blackout was most obvious in the frequency range of 15 MHz to 26 MHz.