Category Archives: Space Weather

NASA’s SDO produces a 10 year time-lapse video of the sun

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ahmet (KD2AQU), who shares the following item from NASA:

As of June 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – SDO – has now been watching the Sun non-stop for over a full decade. From its orbit in space around Earth, SDO has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data over the past 10 years. This information has enabled countless new discoveries about the workings of our closest star and how it influences the solar system.

With a triad of instruments, SDO captures an image of the Sun every 0.75 seconds. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument alone captures images every 12 seconds at 10 different wavelengths of light. This 10-year time lapse showcases photos taken at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, which is an extreme ultraviolet wavelength that shows the Sun’s outermost atmospheric layer – the corona. Compiling one photo every hour, the movie condenses a decade of the Sun into 61 minutes. The video shows the rise and fall in activity that occurs as part of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle and notable events, like transiting planets and eruptions. The custom music, titled “Solar Observer,” was composed by musician Lars Leonhard.

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Solar Minimum: Deep, Deeper…and even Deeper?

Solar Minimum is DEEP and appears to be continuing.  Observer Franky Dubois from Belgium – who posts for the Solar Section of A.L.P.O. – Assoc. of Lunar & Planetary Observers (http://alpo-astronomy.org/) has fully observed three complete Solar Cycles over the past 38-years and he’s graphed the Sunsport R Number – defined as R = K (10g + s), where g is the number of sunspot groups and s is the total number of distinct spots. 

This is what he posted yesterday on the A.L.P.O. Solar Message Group:

Minimum cycle 21: 11.4 April 19[8]6

Minimum cycle 22: 10.4 May 1996

Minimum cycle 23: 2.88 November 2008

Status of cycle 24 thus far: 1.6

Many experts in December (2019) speculated we had reached “Solar Minimum” (error factor of +/- 6-months).  Well, it’s 5-months later and we’ve only seen a couple of next cycle [reversed polarized areas] sunspots/small groups – most of which died-out very quickly and did not sustain a full transit across the observable disc of the sun.  We’ve seen no real evidence – yet – that we’re on the other side or up-side of Minimum.  As an amateur/hobbyist astronomer & Solar Observer myself, I’ve seldom taken the time to set-up my gear & observe (even in wavelengths other than visible).

It’s been discussed here and elsewhere before, but looking at the last 53-years of data there has been a very, very sharp decline in Solar Maximums [and Minimums] sunspot numbers.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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Radio Waves: Russian State Radio in KC, FRBs, New-Cycle Sunspot, and ABC Friends Bushfire Update

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Michael Bird and Ted Miller for the following tips:


Meet The Man Who Brought Russian State Radio To Kansas City (KCUR)

The man responsible for broadcasting Russian state programming in the Kansas City area says he always dreamed of owning a radio station.

Today he owns two, plus a small fleet of radio transmitters across the Kansas City metro.

But money remains tight, he laid off his staff years ago and the stations sell airtime to local residents and religious organizations at cut-rate prices. He hasn’t given himself a paycheck in months.

So Pete Schartel’s ears perked up a while back when he heard that Radio Sputnik pays $30,000 a month to broadcast its programming in Washington, D.C.

“I’m going, ‘Oh my Lord, that’s twice what my whole budget is,’” he told KCUR in a two-hour interview at his flagship station, KCXL, last week. “They must have some money. Let’s investigate this.”

Schartel found Arnold Ferolito, the broker who negotiated the 2017 deal to broadcast Russian programming 24 hours a day in Washington, and made his pitch: “We’re right in the middle of the country. This would be a good test market.”[]

Something in Deep Space Is Sending Signals to Earth in Steady 16-Day Cycles (Vice)

Scientists have discovered the first fast radio burst that beats at a steady rhythm, and the mysterious repeating signal is coming from the outskirts of another galaxy.

A mysterious radio source located in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth is pulsing on a 16-day cycle, like clockwork, according to a new study. This marks the first time that scientists have ever detected periodicity in these signals, which are known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), and is a major step toward unmasking their sources.

FRBs are one of the most tantalizing puzzles that the universe has thrown at scientists in recent years. First spotted in 2007, these powerful radio bursts are produced by energetic sources, though nobody is sure what those might be. FRBs are also mystifying because they can be either one-offs or “repeaters,” meaning some bursts appear only once in a certain part of the sky, while others emit multiple flashes to Earth.

Pulses from these repeat bursts have, so far, seemed somewhat random and discordant in their timing. But that changed last year, when the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB), a group dedicated to observing and studying FRBs, discovered that a repeater called FRB 180916.J0158+65 had a regular cadence.[]

A New-Cycle Sunspot is Forming (SpaceWeather.com)

Today, [February 7, 2020] a new sunspot is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere, right here. Its magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of Solar Cycle 25, the long-awaited next solar cycle. Although solar activity remains low, this new-cycle spot continues the recent trend of intensifying Solar Cycle 25 sunspot formation. Apparently, Solar Minimum won’t last forever….www.spaceweather.com

ABC Friends’ Special Bushfire Edition of Update (ABC Friends)

British natural historian David Attenborough has described this summer’s fires as ‘a major international catastrophe.’ Read gripping personal accounts of bushfire experiences, analysis from our National President Margaret Reynolds and Vice-President Professor Ed Davis, selected articles from journalists, reports from the ABC, and the observations of many ordinary Australians on the role of the ABC as our Emergency Broadcaster.

The ABC’s Emergency Broadcasts saved lives and kept families safe. Hundreds of ABC staff, many returning early from leave and working in extreme conditions, brought stories, pictures, sound and  essential emergency information to every corner of Australia.  It is appalling that many ABC staff are facing redundancy as a result of the recent $83.7 million budget cuts inflicted on the ABC by the Morrison government, on top of the $250m in cuts since 2014.

ABC Friends will be in Canberra when parliament resumes to demand the restoration of funds so that our ABC remains strong and independent.

Read Update here

Update is the national membership magazine of ABC Friends. Not a member? Sign up here.

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Radio Waves: Podcast Preservation, Art Bell Plaque, BBC News Cuts, Space Storms, and DK7IH’s Homebrew Transceiver

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Mike Terry, Troy Riedel, and Jeff Murray for the following tips:


Radio Survivor Podcast #230 – The Library of Congress Launches Podcast Preservation Project (Radio Survivor)

On this week’s episode we learn about a brand new project at the Library of Congress that is focused entirely on archiving podcasts. Ted Westervelt, Manager of the Podcast Preservation Project at Library of Congress, joins us to share early details from this new initiative. He explains that the hope is that a wide variety of all types of podcasts will be part of the collection, including the Radio Survivor Podcast.[]


Memorial Plaque Honoring Art Bell Unveiled at Park in Pahrump, Nevada (Coast to Coast)

Coast to Coast AM founder Art Bell has been honored with a memorial plaque at a park in the Nevada city of Pahrump. The beloved radio personality, who passed away in April of 2018, was a longtime resident of the community and famously broadcast from his home there. The marker, which was unveiled by Nye County on their Facebook page this past Friday and is located at Calvada Eye park, was funded by a group known as the ‘Friends and Fans of Art Bell’ with additional financial support and installation provided by the county.[]


BBC News to close 450 posts as part of £80m savings drive (BBC News)

Around 450 jobs will be cut from BBC News under plans to complete its £80m savings target by 2022.

Outlets to be hit by job closures include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Update programme on the World Service.

BBC News boss Fran Unsworth said there had to be a move away from traditional broadcasting and towards digital.

But broadcasting union Bectu said the changes mean staff will be “under even more pressure to deliver”.


How likely are space super-storms? (EarthSky)

A new analysis shows that “severe” space super-storms happened 42 years out of the last 150, and “great” super-storms happened 6 years out of 150. These storms can disrupt modern electronics, aviation and satellite systems and communications.

A new joint study by the University of Warwick and the British Antarctic Survey used historical data to extend scientists’ previous estimates of the likelihood of space super-storms. These storms may originate with solar flares, seen to erupt explosively on the sun during years of high solar activity. Space super-storms aren’t harmful to humans, because our atmosphere protects us, but they can be hugely disruptive to our modern technologies. They can cause power blackouts, take out satellites, disrupt aviation and cause temporary loss of GPS signals and radio communications, scientists say. The new work shows that what the scientists called “severe” space super-storms occurred 42 years out of the last 150 years. What they called “great” super-storms occurred in 6 years out of 150. The new work also sheds light on what’s called the Carrington event of 1859, the largest super-storm in recorded history.[]

Also check out: Are Solar Storms Dangerous To Us?


DK7IH’s New HOMEBREW Transceiver Raises the Bar for All of Us (Soldersmoke Podcast)

And that, my friends, is a HOMEBREW transceiver. Wow, amazingly well done. After I showed this to Pete N6QW (no slouch in the homebrew packaging department), in frustration with his self-perceived shortcomings he threatened to give up on homebrewing and to throw away all his rigs. Don’t do it Pete!

Peter Rachow, DK7IH has carefully documented his project through as series of blog posts:
Here is Part 1. Part 9 deals with mechanical construction, packaging and what George Dobbs used to call “socketry.”[]


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Lack of Sunspots Breaks a Space Age Record

Another [sun] spotless day on the sun.

Spaceweather.com reports that today we surpassed the largest number of spotless days (270) of the previous 2008 Solar Minimum cycle. The current spotless streak stands at 33 days and is quite possibly on its way to surpass the previous longest streak of this minimum at 36 days.  And you have to go back to 1913 to find a year that had more spotless days (311)!

Above: The blank sun on Dec. 8, 2019. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The bad news: the Solar Minimum could deepen as many scientists have calculated minimum may not occur until April 2020.  You might be wondering: when is the next Solar Maximum?  That’s forecast to be July 2025.  Both the minimum & maximum forecasts have a +/- 6-month error.

How has the historic Solar Minimum impacted your radio listening?  I know it’s impacted my motivation to set-up my solar telescope for solar observation.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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