Tag Archives: Solar Cycle 25

Radio Waves: Potential for Change at USAGM, Judge Rules Pack Unconstitutionally Interfered With VOA, Solar Cycle 25 Could be Strong, and DEF CON Ham Radio Videos

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 Dan Robinson and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


The Biden Choice on USAGM: Business as usual, or major change (USC Center on Public Diplomancy)

Several years ago, I wrote about ongoing problems at Voice of America and its parent agency, which re-branded in 2018 as the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), and how Donald Trump would deal with them.

I suggested that the Voice of America could be shut down with little impact on the global media scene. This sparked outrage in some quarters, especially from those invested in perpetuating the yearly $600 million to $800 million taxpayer-funded media structure aimed at foreign audiences.

Space limitations prohibit a thorough review of events since Donald Trump’s nominee to head USAGM, Michael Pack, finally achieved Senate confirmation and took up his post after being blocked for two years by Democrats and some anti-Trump Republicans.

Pack faced a wave of hit pieces by major anti-Trump media as he moved to gain control of the bloated and entrenched USAGM bureaucracy, confront security issues at USAGM, and tackle political bias at VOA. His removal of key officials in charge of USAGM networks is still being fought out in the courts.[]

Trump Appointee Unconstitutionally Interfered With VOA, Judge Rules (NPR)

The chief executive over the Voice of America and its sister networks has acted unconstitutionally in investigating what he claimed was a deep-seated bias against President Trump by his own journalists, a federal judge has ruled.

Citing the journalists’ First Amendment protections, U.S. Judge Beryl Howell on Friday evening ordered U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack to stop interfering in the news service’s news coverage and editorial personnel matters. She struck a deep blow at Pack’s authority to continue to force the news agency to cover the president more sympathetically.

Actions by Pack and his aides have likely “violated and continue to violate [journalists’] First Amendment rights because, among other unconstitutional effects, they result in self-censorship and the chilling of First Amendment expression,” Howell wrote in her opinion. “These current and unanticipated harms are sufficient to demonstrate irreparable harm.”[]

Sunspot Cycle 25 could be among the strongest ever (Southgate ARC)

The ARRL reports a research paper has concluded that Solar Cycle 25 will stronger than the just-ended Solar Cycle 24 and likely stronger than Solar Cycle 23

The League says:

A research paper, “Overlapping Magnetic Activity Cycles and the Sunspot Number: Forecasting Sunspot Cycle 25 Amplitude,” by Scott W. McIntosh, Deputy Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, et al., has concluded that Solar Cycle 25 could be among the strongest sunspot cycles ever observed, and will almost certainly be stronger than the just-ended Solar Cycle 24 (sunspot number of 116). The scientists say it will also most likely be stronger than Solar Cycle 23 (sunspot number of 180). As the abstract explains:

“The sun exhibits a well-observed modulation in the number of spots on its disk over a period of about 11 years. From the dawn of modern observational astronomy, sunspots have presented a challenge to understanding — their quasi-periodic variation in number, first noted 175 years ago, stimulates community-wide interest to this day. A large number of techniques are able to explain the temporal landmarks, (geometric) shape, and amplitude of sunspot ‘cycles;’ however, forecasting these features accurately in advance remains elusive.

“Recent observationally motivated studies have illustrated a relationship between the sun’s 22-year magnetic cycle and the production of the sunspot cycle landmarks and patterns, but not the amplitude of the sunspot cycle. Using (discrete) Hilbert transforms on more than 270 years of (monthly) sunspot numbers, we robustly identify the so-called ‘termination’ events that mark the end of the previous 11-year sunspot cycle, the enhancement/acceleration of the present cycle, and the end of 22-year magnetic activity cycles. Using these, we extract a relationship between the temporal spacing of terminators and the magnitude of sunspot cycles.

“Given this relationship and our prediction of a terminator event in 2020, we deduce that Sunspot Cycle 25 could have a magnitude that rivals the top few since records began. This outcome would be in stark contrast to the community consensus estimate of Sunspot Cycle 25 magnitude.”

McIntosh’s recorded presentation of the paper is available at this link
Use passcode z7qCn@3G

The research paper is at
https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.15263.pdf

Source ARRL Letter November 19, 2020
http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter

DEF CON ham radio talks on YouTube (Southgate ARC)

Talks from the DEF CON event are available on YouTube, they include a number of amateur radio talks from the conference’s Ham Radio Village

Among the amateur radio talks are:
• Talking to Satellites by Eric Escobar KJ6OHH
• The K0BAK News Van by Pete Kobak K0BAK
• Single Board Computers (Raspberry Pi) In Amateur Radio by Typer Gardner KI7ODK
• Ham Radio Snail Mail NTS and the Radiogram Format by Aaron Hulett K8AMH
• Hunting tape measure yagis and offset attenuators by Mark Smith KR6ZY
• APRS Demo by Bryan Lamoreaux KG7OOW

Ham Radio Village Playlist
Click here

Other DEF CON videos are at
https://www.youtube.com/user/DEFCONConference/videosoo


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Radio Waves: A “Calm” Solar Cycle 25, WWJ History, Czech Radio’s Digital-Only Future, and UK Ham Radio Exam Stats

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 Ron, Mike, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


As Disasters Roil Earth, A New Sun Cycle Promises Calmer Weather — In Space (NPR)

Giant flares and eruptions from the sun can cause space weather, and stormy space weather can interfere with everything from satellites to the electrical grid to airplane communications. Now, though, there’s good news for people who monitor the phenomenon — the sun has passed from one of its 11-year activity cycles into another, and scientists predict that the new cycle should be just about as calm as the last.

That doesn’t mean, however, zero risk of extreme weather events. Even during the last, relatively weak solar cycle, drama on the sun triggered occasional weirdness on Earth like radio blackouts, disruptions in air traffic control, power outages — and even beautiful aurorae seen as far south as Alabama.

Over each solar cycle, the roiling sun moves from a relatively quiet period through a much more active one. Researchers monitor all this activity by keeping an eye on the number of sunspots, temporary dark patches on the sun’s surface. These spots are associated with solar activity like giant explosions that send light, energy, and solar material into space.

Counting of sunspots goes back centuries, and the list of numbered solar cycles tracked by scientists starts with one that began in 1755 and ended in 1766. On average, cycles last about 11 years.

Based on recent sunspot data, researchers can now say that so-called “Solar Cycle 24” came to an end in December of 2019. Solar Cycle 25 has officially begun, with the number of sun spots slowly but steadily increasing.[]

WWJ in Detroit: A 2020 Centennial Station (Radio World)

Iconic AM station just celebrated the 100th anniversary of its first broadcast

It was shortly after World War I that Clarence Thompson, a partner of Lee de Forest, formed a new company Radio News & Music Inc. in New York. His goal was to encourage newspapers to broadcast their news reports by wireless, using de Forest transmitters.

The franchise offer — available to only one newspaper in each city — offered the rental of a de Forest 50-watt transmitter and accessories for $750. Just one newspaper signed up for the deal; it was the Detroit News, led by publisher William E. Scripps.

He had been interested in wireless since investing in Detroit experimenter Thomas E. Clark’s wireless company in 1904. Scripp’s son, William J. “Little Bill,” was an active ham radio operator, operating a station in the Scripps home.

People Might Laugh

Scripp proposed accepting the Radio News & Music offer and building a Detroit News radio station in 1919, but he met resistance from his board of directors. It was not until March of 1920 that he was given the go-ahead to sign a contract.

The de Forest transmitter was shipped to Detroit on May 28, 1920, but was lost in transit; a second transmitter was constructed and sent on July 15. This delayed the installation of the station until August.[]

Czech Radio has expanded DAB + coverage to 95 percent of the population and announced the switch-off of medium waves (Digitalni Radio)

NOTE: This is a machine translation of the original post in Czech.

Czech Radio has entered another, important phase of radio digitization. To date, the ?Ro DAB + multiplex signal has reached 95% population coverage. Ten new transmitters were launched in Bohemia and Moravia. You can find a detailed description of them below.

DAB + technology is becoming a common distribution channel for Czech Radio, which will be placed on the same level as analogue FM / FM broadcasting. All marketing activities will already include the “DAB + More Radio” logo. ?eské Radiokomunikace is planning to start certification of receivers next year in order to protect customers and facilitate orientation in the range for them and retailers.

According to the CEO of Czech Radio, René Zavoral, the public service media is proceeding in accordance with a long-term strategic plan. The head of communication and press spokesman Ji?í Hošna describes the step as a turning point that can affect the direction of the entire radio market.[]

UK amateur radio exam report released (Southgate ARC)

The RSGB Examinations Standards Committee (ESC) report covering 2019 is now available for anyone to download

The report contains statistics for the both the RSGB amateur radio exams and the Air Cadets Organisation (ACO) exam which Ofcom considers to be equivalent to the RSGB Foundation.

Ofcom has been concerned about the participation of women in amateur radio and STEM disciplines. They requested the ESC to publish figures for the number of women taking the exams. Unfortunately the results are disappointing with only 9.9% of all exams being taken by women.

Download the ESC report from
https://rsgb.org/main/blog/examination-standards-committee-reports/2020/09/18/examinations-standards-committee-report-2020-for-activities-during-2019/


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NASA Science Live presents “Our Next Solar Cycle”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who writes:

On Tuesday, September 15, 2020 Science at NASA had a presentation on the next solar cycle predictions.

It’s available on YouTube and other outlets without needing a login or Zoom serial number:

Fascinating! Thanks for the tip, Paul!

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Radio Waves: Maritime Mobile Net Assists, Voice of Ambiguity, Promising Solar Cycle 25 Prediction, and the Future of Ham Radio

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 Rich Smith, Kim Elliott, and Pete Eaton for the following tips:


Maritime Mobile Service Network Comes to the Aid of Vessel in Distress (ARRL News)

The Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) on 14.300 MHz came to the assistance of a sailing vessel on June 25. MMSN control operator Steven Carpenter, K9UA, took a call on 20 meters from Ian Cummings, KB4SG, the skipper of the Mystic Lady, then some 40 miles east of Florida. Cummings reported that his engine had failed as he was attempting to return to his home port of Stuart, Florida. He not only had insufficient wind, but a strong current was carrying the vessel out to sea.

Cummings had been unable to reach any station via his VHF marine radio, since he was too far from the coast. Assisting in the call was Robert Wynhoff, K5HUT, also an MMSN net control operator. Cummings said his vessel, with one passenger on board, was drifting northwest toward the South Carolina coast.

“A major concern was that the vessel was heading directly towards a lee shore,” the MMSN reported. “Lee shores are shallow, dangerous areas which are a hazard to watercraft. Vessels could be pushed into the shallow area by the wind, possibly running aground and breaking up.”

Carpenter contacted Cummings’ family, who had already called the Sea Tow marine towing service. Sea Tow advised Carpenter to tell the captain to head closer to shore by sailing west, if possible. Carpenter told Cummings that if he was unable to get nearer to shore, he would notify the US Coast Guard, which was already monitoring the situation.

As the MMSN reported, “The Mystic Lady was able to make some headway, but it was very slow. Members of the MMSN made additional calls via landline to the captain’s family as to the ongoing status of those on board. The family was concerned but relieved that communication was established and that all were well.”

Several hours later, the captain advised that the wind had picked up, allowing him to head close enough to shore for Sea Tow to reach the vessel and take it back to port.

The Pacific Seafarers’ Net, which monitors 14.300 MHz from the West Coast after the MMSN secures at 0200 UTC, kept in touch with the Mystic Lady into the night while it was under tow.

The tired, grateful captain later messaged the net, “A million thanks to everyone last night who helped rescue us on 14.300. Everyone chipped in as we drifted north in the Gulf Stream 60 miles headed to a lee shore. The MMSN net control and several others stayed with us for hours, phoned people, and were immensely helpful. The situation on board was dangerous. We are now safely under tow home. You folks are amazing!”

In operation since 1968, the MMSN monitors 14.300 MHz 70 hours a week to assist vessels and others in need of assistance. — Thanks to MMSN Net Manager Jeff Savasta, KB4JKL[]

VOA: Voice of ambiguity (The Hill)

From 1985 to 2017, I was an audience research analyst at the Voice of America. During that time I was preoccupied by the fact that the BBC World Service had a larger audience than VOA. VOA had a larger budget, so money was not the issue.

In audience surveys, I inserted a question asking those who listened to BBC more often than VOA: “why?” The answer provided most often was trustworthiness of the news.

I asked a listener from Burma (now known as Myanmar) why he thought BBC is considered more trustworthy than VOA. He replied that VOA is more closely connected to the U.S. government than BBC is to the U.K. government. I asked how he knows this. He responded that it’s because VOA says so every day.

He was referring to the “disclaimer” at the beginning of the editorials that, by the 1980s, were heard daily on VOA’s English broadcasts: “Next, an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.”

The daily editorial was a requirement handed down by VOA’s parent U.S. Information Agency. The editorials are drafted by the VOA’s policy staff, sent to the State Department for approval and finally broadcast after a sometimes lengthy back and forth.

Michael Pack, the new CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, VOA’s present parent agency, is restoring the editorials to their previous prominence on VOA. In recent years, with diminished radio output, editorials were relegated to VOA’s little-viewed satellite television service and to a website separate from the main voanews.com. The revival of the editorials is a step in the repoliticization of VOA.[]

Newer Solar Cycle 25 Forecast Runs Counter to Consensus (ARRL Newsletter)

Scientists associated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and other institutions are offering a “bold prediction” on how Solar Cycle 25 will play out. In a paper, “Overlapping Magnetic Activity Cycles and the Sunspot Number: Forecasting Sunspot Cycle 25 Amplitude,” they assert that the next sunspot cycle will be of major proportions. The forecast stands in stark contrast to the consensus of forecasters who predict that the magnitude of the nascent Cycle 25 may not be much different from the current unremarkable solar cycle, which appears to have reach its low point.

“From the dawn of modern observational astronomy, sunspots have presented a challenge to understanding — their quasi-periodic variation in number, first noted 160 years ago, stimulates community-wide interest to this day,” the abstract points out. “A large number of techniques are able to explain the temporal landmarks, (geometric) shape, and amplitude of sunspot ‘cycles,’ however, forecasting these features accurately in advance remains elusive.”

Monthly sunspot numbers since 1749. The data values are represented by dots, and the 12-month running average values are illustrated as a red shaded area. Vertical blue dashed lines signify the magnetic activity cycle termination times that trigger the rapid growth of sunspot activity.

The paper notes that recent studies have illustrated a relationship between the sun’s 22-year Hale magnetic cycle and the production of sunspot cycle landmarks and patterns, but not the amplitude of the cycle.

“Using discrete Hilbert transforms on 270 years of monthly sunspot numbers to robustly identify the so-called ‘termination’ events — landmarks marking the start and end of sunspot and magnetic activity cycles — we extract a relationship between the temporal spacing of terminators and the magnitude of sunspot cycles,” the abstract explains. “Given this relationship and our prediction of a terminator event in 2020, we deduce that Sunspot Cycle 25 will have a magnitude that rivals the top few since records began. This outcome would be in stark contrast to the community consensus estimate of Sunspot Cycle 25 magnitude.”[]

The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio (IEEE Spectrum)

Software-defined radio and cheap hardware are shaking up a hobby long associated with engineering

Will the amateur airwaves fall silent? Since the dawn of radio, amateur operators—hams—have transmitted on tenaciously guarded slices of spectrum. Electronic engineering has benefited tremendously from their activity, from the level of the individual engineer to the entire field. But the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, with its ability to easily connect billions of people, captured the attention of many potential hams. Now, with time taking its toll on the ranks of operators, new technologies offer opportunities to revitalize amateur radio, even if in a form that previous generations might not recognize.

The number of U.S. amateur licenses has held at an anemic 1 percent annual growth for the past few years, with about 7,000 new licensees added every year for a total of 755,430 in 2018. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission doesn’t track demographic data of operators, but anecdotally, white men in their 60s and 70s make up much of the population. As these baby boomers age out, the fear is that there are too few young people to sustain the hobby.

“It’s the $60,000 question: How do we get the kids involved?” says Howard Michel, former CEO of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). (Since speaking with IEEE Spectrum, Michel has left the ARRL. A permanent replacement has not yet been appointed.)

This question of how to attract younger operators also reveals deep divides in the ham community about the future of amateur radio. Like any large population, ham enthusiasts are no monolith; their opinions and outlooks on the decades to come vary widely. And emerging digital technologies are exacerbating these divides: Some hams see them as the future of amateur radio, while others grouse that they are eviscerating some of the best things about it.[]


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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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One sunspot into Solar Cycle 25

(Source: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory via Spaceweather Archive)

(Source: Spaceweather Archive via Michael Bird)

Nov. 1, 2019: Breaking a string of 28 spotless days, a new sunspot (AR2750) is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere–and it’s a member of the next solar cycle. A picture of the sunspot is inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

How do we know AR2750 belongs to the next solar cycle? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Southern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a -/+ polarity. This sunspot is the opposite: +/-. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. AR2750 is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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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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