Author Archives: Troy Riedel

Big Sunspot Produces “Ocean Surf” Sounds on Shortwave

Though sunspots have been rare this year, Sunspot AR2738 has been producing bursts which have been heard as radio static – that sounds like “ocean surf” – on shortwave.

This was posted early this morning at spaceweather.com – along with a recording:

If you have a shortwave radio, you might have heard some unusual sounds this week. Big sunspot AR2738 is producing strong bursts of radio static. “They sound like ocean surf,” says Thomas Ashcraft, who recorded this specimen on April 13th using an amateur radio telescope in New Mexico:

Credit: Observation of Thomas Ashcroft via Spaceweather.com

Please refer to the Spaceweather.com Archive for more info.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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“Human Magnetoreception”: Can Humans Sense Magnetic Storms?

Can our brains sense Geomagnetic Storms?  Do we have an “internal radar” that tells us when the sun is active?

Brain waves respond to Magnetic Fields (Credit: Earth to Sky Calculus)

I ran across this article this morning posted at http://SpaceWeather.com

CAN HUMANS SENSE MAGNETIC STORMS? Close your eyes and relax. Daydream about something pleasant. In this state your brain is filled with “alpha waves,” a type of electrical brainwave associated with wakeful relaxation.

Now try it during a geomagnetic storm. It may not be so easy. A new study just published in the journal eNeuro by researchers at Caltech offers convincing evidence that changes in Earth’s magnetic field can suppress alpha waves in the human brain.

[Go to http://SpaceWeather.com to read the full article]

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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Sony ICF-SW100: Whip vs. DE31MS active vs. Sony AN-LP1

Click here to view on YouTube.

Guest Post by: Troy Riedel

It’s been a while since I posted a video on my YouTube Channel (but I’ve gotten the urge to make several more videos as I’ve been recently comparing my equipment – 16 portable receivers & many antennas).

I try to tune in to Radio Prague via WRMI on many weekday East Coast USA mornings from 1300-1325 UTC. Yesterday I encountered bad propagation but today was much better.  The video linked to this post is from today – 30JAN2019 recorded around 1310 UTC.

[Sorry, no tripod for this one]

People often ask, “are amplified antennas helpful” – as evidenced by this post from Thomas from a few years ago.

Without repeating the debate, just take a look at this one example.  As stated, reception was pretty good today off the little whip – but – there is an improvement using an amplified antenna.  My question: is there a difference between the two amplified antennas?  And if so, is the difference worth the price?

My TG34 is a clone of the DE31MS – purchased from Tquchina Radio & Component (ebay user: Tao Qu … they used to have an eBay store “Sino Radios” if I recall, but they stopped selling on eBay when the Post started cracking down on shipment of batteries – I actually exchanged an email with a frustrated Tao Qu when they closed the store).

I paid about $21 if I recall for my TG34 (the DE31MS is available today on eBay for as little as $17.28).  I paid over $100 for the Sony AN-LP1 (out of production now and can be listed for as high as $300 on eBay).  So … $21 versus “over $100”.  Is there a difference – and if so – is it 5x the difference – 5x better?!

You be the judge.

P.S. Just a quick slightly over 1-minute video recorded inside my house (sitting in my breakfast nook) … typically “okay” reception but not my usual Listening Post.

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G-1 Geomagnetic Storm, Chance of a G-2 Storm 11-12 Sep

From Spaceweather.com:

“NOAA forecasters say there is an 80% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms on Sept. 11th when a stream of solar wind is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field … There’s a chance that the storm could intensify to category G2 (moderately strong).”

Image: Solar Wind flowing from this canyon shaped coronal hole could reach Earth on September 11 thru 12th. Credit: SDO/AIA from Spaceweather.com

Will this impact your radio plans over the next two days?  Go to Spaceweather.com for updates.

UPDATED 10:30 P.M. EDT:

I just received this update from the Forecast Center:

Product: 3-Day Forecast
Issued: 2018 Sep 11 0030 UTC
Prepared by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction
Center

A. NOAA Geomagnetic Activity Observation and Forecast

The greatest observed 3 hr Kp over the past 24 hours was 5 (NOAA Scale
G1).
The greatest expected 3 hr Kp for Sep 11-Sep 13 2018 is 6 (NOAA Scale
G2).

NOAA Kp index breakdown Sep 11-Sep 13 2018

            Sep 11     Sep 12     Sep 13
00-03UT        5 (G1)     4          3     
03-06UT        6 (G2)     5 (G1)     4     
06-09UT        5 (G1)     4          3     
09-12UT        4          3          2     
12-15UT        4          2          2     
15-18UT        3          2          2     
18-21UT        3          2          2     
21-00UT        4          2          2     

Rationale: The geomagnetic field will likely reach G2 (Moderate) levels
on day one( 11 Sep) as a result of a positive polarity CH HSS. Activity
is expected to taper some by day two (12 Sep), but G1 (Minor) storm
conditions are still likely. Day three (13 Sep) is expected to be a day
of transition, with G1 conditions becoming less likely.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel – career retired Veteran, educated Synoptic Meteorologist & an amateur astronomer hobbyist who likes to also “play shortwave”.

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Astronomers organizing to save WWV

As an amateur astronomer, I knew it was only a matter of time before the astronomical community became involved to save WWV.  Specifically, it’s a group of mostly amateur astronomers who observe and record occultations.

What’s an occultation?  It’s the term when a solar system object passes in front of, and blocks out a star.  Why is this important to observe?  Lunar occultations are the easiest to observe (if the star is bright enough, one can do a crude observation with binoculars or even the unaided eye).  But there is very valuable science to be had with smaller objects.  When a dwarf planet [like Pluto] or an asteroid – passes in front of, and “blinks” out or blocks the light of a star – measurements can be taken that reveal the dwarf planet or asteroid’s size/diameter.  We can even determine if an object is round/oval – or maybe cigar-shaped when multiple ground observers record and accurately time how long the star “blinks” (or if the star doesn’t get covered by the asteroid in some locations but does in others). Okay, that is Occultations 101 (if you are interested in learning more, see the link).

Credit: Upcoming occultation – showing the path where the occultation is visible – from IOTA: International Occultation Timing Association

Note 1: In 2017, amateur astronomers using a 3” telescope determined that an asteroid had a moon!I had a 3” telescope, back in the 1970s, when I was a kid!

Credit: Sky and Telescope Magazine & IOTA: the International Occultation Timing Association

Note 2: Multiple occultation observations involving the dwarf planet Pluto (and its next target – a “KBO”) are helping scientists navigate the New Horizons space probe (and to identify hazards) as it speeds through space to its next target – nicknamed Ultima Thule – beyond Pluto (on January 1st, 2019).

Equipment used to record and document these fleeting events (some graze occultations only last fractions of a second) requires – you guessed it – time stamped video devices.  Back in the old days before video and other advanced equipment, astronomers would sit a shortwave radio next to the telescope with a tape recorder to audibly capture & record the time signal with the observer noting the start/stop of the event (we’ve come a long way since then – time stamped equipment has advanced this from “approximately” to “exact science”!).

The main point of this blog entry: astronomers have been asked to sign the White House petition to maintain NIST stations funding. Sky & Telescope Magazine, if they haven’t already, will be posting an article with an interview that they conducted with one of the leading occultation observers that includes a link to the petition on their web site.

Let’s hope this momentum continues to build – and that it makes a difference!

Guest Post by Troy Riedel.

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