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Propagation News – 10 March 2019

The Sun sprouted a new sunspot this week bringing the sunspot number to 17 and the solar flux index to 73. The sunspot number represents 10 for a group and one for each of the sunspots in that group. Geomagnetic conditions were more settled over the week, with the Kp index hitting one and two. This was due to lack of coronal hole activity. Looking at the extreme UV image taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows we can expect relatively calm conditions, at least for the coming week.

NOAA still has a geomagnetic warning out until 10 March, but it is hard to see why. We can expect the solar wind speed to remain average over that time, but there are no Earth-facing coronal holes to push the K-index to four or higher.

Now that we are in March we can expect to see better HF conditions, with good opportunities for north-south paths, such as the UK to South Africa and UK to South America. Look for openings on 17 and perhaps even 15m, which you might normally expect to be closed at this time of year.

The charts at Propquest show that 20m is open most days, with occasional openings on 17m. But do look out for fleeting openings on 15m, especially around lunchtime.

And finally, good luck in the Commonwealth Contest this weekend, which often throws up excellent opportunities to work some DX.

VHF and up:

It’s shaping up to be a quiet propagation week, driven by low pressure, which will be located to the north and east of the British Isles. This implies a colder, north-westerly weather pattern. At this time of the year it’s hard to get too excited about tropo in such disturbed weather conditions.

We’re not far away from the traditional season of April showers, with a chance of some heavy ones, perhaps with hail and thunder, which may provide an opportunity to try some rain scatter on the GHz bands. But in this thundery weather it’s worth considering whether to disconnect your antennas before going off to work.

High pressure is displaced well to the south-west of the UK, so if there are any tropo prospects, they’ll be marginal and confined to the south-west and into western France and Biscay.

There is a small meteor shower, the Gamma Normids on Thursday, but in general we’ll have to rely on random meteors around dawn for the best chance of meteor scatter DX.

It’s a good week for EME with rising Moon declination peaking on Friday, and falling losses as we approach perigee a week on Tuesday.

Of course, when all other propagation modes fail there are always the satellites. As well as the well-established low earth orbit satellites, we now have a geostationary transponder, Oscar-100 available for use 24/7. Google Goonhilly Web SDR to find the online receiver, and have a listen before you commit your efforts to operating via this new one.

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