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Propagation News – 10 February 2019

Matter from a solar coronal hole pushed the Kp index to five in the early hours of Friday, the 1st, eventually resulting in much reduced maximum usable frequencies as the ionosphere was depleted. Signals on Saturday, the 2nd, were noticeably poorer, with even 14MHz struggling. There were also reports of very visible aurora around the Arctic Circle. But the ionosphere recovered quite quickly and, as predicted, the rest of the week was much better.

There were some other HF highlights last week. Chris, G4IFX reported that New Zealand has been a regular on 5MHz FT8 on the long path in the mornings. Predtest shows that a path is currently possible, peaking at around 7am. Speaking of FT8, don’t ignore the higher bands, as 21 and even 28MHz often shows signs of life, with numerous European stations in particular being logged on 21MHz. The low bands also still continue to deliver results, Robert, G4TUK reports working Jeffrey, PJ2ND in Curacao and Ed, P49X in Aruba on 80 metres CW. Roger, G3LDI also worked numerous VK, ZL and W stations in the FOC Marathon on 80 and 40 metres. Make the most of 80m as the nights are slowly getting shorter!

Looking ahead, NOAA predicts that the solar flux index will remain around 71-72 over the next week. Uncharacteristically, geomagnetic conditions are predicted to be relatively quiet over the next seven days with a Kp index of two. This means that this could be a reasonable weak for HF propagation, within the limitations of a very low solar flux index.

VHF and up;
After a very stormy end to last week with gales and potential antenna damage, you will be relieved to hear that it’s looking like a much quieter week to come. From Monday the pressure will start to rise and will soon establish an area of high pressure over the British Isles, which will then slowly drift east to affect much of the continent and Scandinavia. The structure of the likely inversions is such that the western side of the UK and Ireland will enjoy the stronger tropo, but is likely to affect paths in the east as well, although these may be negatively influenced by colder dry air from northern Europe later in the week. Overall, the tropo prospects look better generally than during the last two weeks or so.

With positive Moon declination reaching its peak next Saturday it’s a good week for EME, with long Moon windows and falling path losses as the week progresses.

With the announcement that the Es’hailSat2 transponders should go live this month, we wait with bated breath for a chance to work via amateur radio’s first geostationary satellite. The AMSAT website says that the 10GHz narrow-band downlink should be receivable with a satellite LNB and a 75cm dish. The 2.4GHz uplink should be sensitive to around five watts to the same size dish with a suitable feed.

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