Category Archives: Space Weather

1921 NY Railroad Storm could have surpassed intensity of 1859 Carrington Event

(Image: NASA)

(Source: Southgate ARC via Eric McFadden)

Scientific American magazine reports new data suggest the 1921 ‘New York Railroad Storm’ could have surpassed the intensity of the famous Carrington Event of 1859

In a paper published in the journal Space Weather, Jeffrey Love of the U.S. Geological Survey and his colleagues reexamined the intensity of the 1921 event, known as the New York Railroad Storm, in greater detail than ever before. Although different measures of intensity exist, geomagnetic storms are often rated on an index called disturbance storm time (Dst)—a way of gauging global magnetic activity by averaging out values for the strength of Earth’s magnetic field measured at multiple locations. Our planet’s baseline Dst level is about –20 nanoteslas (nT), with a “superstorm” condition defined as occurring when levels fall below –250 nT.

Studies of the very limited magnetic data from the Carrington Event peg its intensity at anywhere from –850 to –1,050 nT. According to Love’s study, the 1921 storm, however, came in at about –907 nT. “The 1921 storm could have been more intense than the 1859 storm,” Love says. “Prior to our paper, [the 1921 storm] was understood to be intense, but how intense wasn’t really clear.”

Read the full story at
https://www.scientificamerican
.com/article/new-studies-warn-of-cataclysmic-solar-superstorms/

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Music of the Meteors via Dan’s live YouTube stream

(Image via NASA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy (VR2HF), who writes:

LISTEN TO THE MUSIC OF THE METEORS!

No matter what the skycover in the coming few days you can hear the Perseid Meteor Shower live via my receiver on 49.749 MHz USB. The hollow PINGS are brief bursts of signal from a TV station transmitter here in Asia enabled by meteors as they streak through the ionosphere. As with viewing the Perseids, patience pays rich rewards of hearing the amazing music of the meteors. Enjoy! Dan…VR2HF

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you for sharing this Dan. I have heard a number of pings over the past few hours. Amazing!

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Parker Solar Probe gathering data from our local star

(Source: NASA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who writes:

Parker Solar Probe supposedly going to yield some interesting data [see below].

Hopefully it’ll bring forth some interesting new findings for Short Wave users!

(Source: Engaget)

Over the past months, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew closer to the sun than any other spacecraft before it — not once, but twice on two flybys. The probe obviously collected as much data as it could so that we can understand the sun better. Now its mission team at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland has just received the final transmission for the 22 gigabytes of science data collected during those two encounters. That’s 50 percent more than it expected to receive by now, all thanks to the spacecraft’s telecommunications system performing better than expected.

Parker’s ground team found out soon after launch that the probe is capable of a higher downlink rate. In fact, they’re taking advantage of that ability by instructing the probe to send back even more data from the second encounter in April. During that event, the spacecraft’s four suites of science instruments kept busy collecting information. That’s why the mission team is expecting to receive an additional 25GB of science data between July 24th and August 15th.

The mission team will release the data from the first two encounters to the public later this year. Before that happens, the spacecraft will conduct its third flyby, which will start on August 27th and reach closest approach on September 1st. Researchers are hoping that over the net few years the mission can gather the information we need to unravel some of the sun’s biggest mysteries, including why the sun’s corona (its aura of plasma) is far hotter than its visible surface.

Click here to read the full article at Engaget.

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Free Advice: Stop worrying about solar minimums and just play radio!

Lately we’ve been getting some pretty dismal news about the upcoming solar cycles and the potential for a pretty dismal trend according to some researchers.

We report this news on the SWLing Post because the sun and space weather play an important role in radio signal propagation and one’s ability to snag elusive DX.

After publishing news items like this, though, I always receive a number of emails and comments stating that these trends surely marks the end of all radio fun. After all, if there are no sun spots whatsoever, why bother!?!

Truth is, it’s sort of like saying, “the weather looks lousy, I don’t think I’ll be able to have fun.”

I lived in the UK for several years. If I let the potential for lousy weather stop me from having fun, I’d have never gotten anything done!

The same goes for space weather in our radio world.

A couple weeks ago, I made a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation running 15 watts with the Elecraft KX3 into a simple 20 meter vertical in SSB mode.  Even though propagation was poor, I logged a new contact, on average, once per minute over the course of 30 minutes! It was non-stop!

The GE 7-2990A (left) and Panasonic RF-B65 (right)

I also listened to the Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica with two portable radios. Propagation was poor and I didn’t even use an external antenna…but I caught the broadcast and had a load of fun hanging out on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

My advice?

As I said in a post last year, use the sunspot low as an excuse to explore frequencies and modes you’ve never used before. Use this as an opportunity to improve your listening skills and the most important part of your listening post or ham station–your antenna system!

I often receive email from people who’ve found the SWLing Post and take the time to write a message to me complaining about the death of shortwave radio: the lack of broadcasters, the prevalence of radio interference and the crummy propagation. They wonder, “is it all worth it?”

My reply?

“Hey…sounds like radio’s not your thing!”

While this same person is moaning and complaining, I’ll be on the radio logging South American, Asian and African broadcast stations.

I’ll be working DX with QRP power, even though everyone tells me that’s not possible right now.

I’ll be improving my skill set and trying new aspects of our vast radio world.

You see: I’ve learned that the complainers aren’t actually on the air. They gave up many moons ago because someone told them it wasn’t worth it, or they simply lost interest. That’s okay…seriously…but why waste time complaining? Go find something else that lights your fire!

While these folks are complaining, I’ll be on the air doing all of the things they tell me I can’t do.

In the words of Admiral David Farragut: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Go out there and play radio!

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Grand Solar Minimum may lie ahead according to an article in Nature

(Image: NASA)

(Source: ARRL News)

juried research paper in Nature, “Oscillations of the baseline of solar magnetic field and solar irradiance on a millennial timescale,” suggests that a “grand solar minimum” — similar to the legendary “Maunder Minimum” — is approaching, starting as early as next year and lasting for three solar cycles. That would be bad news for HF enthusiasts, who are already struggling with marginal conditions.

As the paper’s abstract explains, “Recently discovered long-term oscillations of the solar background magnetic field associated with double dynamo waves generated in inner and outer layers of the Sun indicate that the solar activity is heading in the next three decades (2019–2055) to a Modern grand minimum similar to Maunder one.”

As propagation buff and contester Frank Donovan, W3LPL, observed, “It’s very uncertain if this forecast is correct, but as usual the forecasts of the next solar cycle are all over the map. Let’s hope these scientists are wrong.”

Click here to read this article via the ARRL News.

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Planetary orbits may influence 11-year solar cycle

(Image: NASA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who shares this interesting article via Space.com:

The orbits of Venus, Earth and Jupiter may explain the sun’s regular 11-year cycle, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), a research institute in Dresden, Germany, showed that the magnetic fields of those three planets influence the cycle of solar activity, resolving one of the bigger questions in solar physics.

“Everything points to a clocked process,” Frank Stefani, a researcher at HZDR and lead author of the new study, said in a statement. “What we see is complete parallelism with the planets over the course of 90 cycles.”

The researchers compared observations of solar activity — like sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections — from the last thousand years with planetary alignments in order to show that there was in fact a correlation, according to the statement.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Space.com.

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There Are Storms A’Comin’!

Something new (to me) caught my eye this morning and brought an exclamation to my lips: the three-day geomagnetic forecast for today shows Purple!! This indicates some serious geomagnetic activity! Red is not uncommon, but Purple really got my attention!

The disturbance is due to an active sunspot area 31 times the size of earth! There are 3-4 CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) headed our way, arriving in the next day or two, which will likely make SWLing a bit difficult, if not causing at least momentary blackouts in some places.

On the upside, for those amateur radio folks who like working Auroral Skip, conditions are likely to be quite interesting in the VHF and above ranges.

SolarHam.net and SpaceweatherLive.com are both excellent sites to study solar activity, so give them a visit! 73, Robert K4PKM

Robert Gulley, K4PKM (formerly AK3Q), is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.       Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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