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The K7RA Solar Update

A single new Cycle 25 sunspot appeared over the past week, January 1 through January 8. NOAA did not record or number the new spot until January 2, but Spaceweather.com indicated it (sunspot region 2755) began on January 1.

Then another new Cycle 25 spot emerged on Thursday, January 9, with a daily sunspot number of 14. I was excited to see Spaceweather.com post “Solar Cycle 25 Continues to Intensify.”

Average daily sunspot number rose from 3.1 to 8.4. The solar flux average rose insignificantly from 71.7 to 71.8. Geomagnetic indicators were slightly higher, with average planetary A index increasing from 3.1 to 6.3, and average middle latitude A index rising from 2 to 5.3.

Predicted solar flux for the next 45 days is 74 on January 10-12, 72 on January 13-25, 70 on January 26 through February 7, and 72 on February 8-22 and 70 on February 23.

Predicted planetary A index is 8 on January 10, 5 on January 11-12, 8 on January 13, 10 on January 14-15, 8 on January 16, 5 on January 17-31, then 8, 8 and 5 on February 1-3, 10 on February 4-6, 5 on February 7-9, 10 on February 10-11, 5 on February 12-22 and 8 on February 23.

Geomagnetic activity forecast for the period January 10 until February 5, 2020 from OK1HH.

Geomagnetic field will be
Quiet on January 12-13, 18-19, 29-30
Quiet to unsettled on January 10-11, 20-21, 24-28, February 5
Quiet to active on (January 14, 16-17, 22-23, 31, February 1-4)
Unsettled to active on (January 15)

Solar wind will intensify on January 14-16, (17, 22-24,) February 4-6

Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement.

Jon Jones, N0JK sent this 6-meter report from Kansas on January 8: “Sporadic-E was scarce in December 2019 after early openings the first week. Six meters came back to life the last couple of days. Sporadic-E was reported on January 6, 7, 8 and 9. The most widespread Es was on the 8th with most of the eastern half of North America taking part. Stations began making Es contacts around 1800z (Illinois to Texas) and it lasted until 0035z January 9. From eastern Kansas, I worked W1, W2, W3 and W4 around 2200z. Best DX was to WA1EAZ (FN42) and K1SIX (FN42). N0LL (EM09) and N0YO (EM18) made many Es contacts.

“Later I set up “fixed mobile” with 10 watts and 1/4 wave whip south of Manhattan, Kansas. I worked a very loud KN4NN (EM60) at 0032z January 9 at the opening’s end.

“The Quadrantids meteor shower peaked earlier than predicted January 4 at 0500z with a ZHR of 125. At that time the shower radiant was too low to be usable for meteors for North America. Larry, N0LL, was operating portable from rare grid EN02 the morning of the 4th. He was on the air at about 1200z on 6-meter msk144 and made over 20 contacts. The ZHR at this time was only around 25, but still higher than normal.”

Jeff, N8II, reported from West Virginia on January 3: “Several long time 160 operators agree with me that during the Stew Perry Top Band DX Challenge on January 28-29 we had some of the best DX conditions ever in a 160 meter event! I was not able to operate full time, but with my 100W and half sloper antenna (starting at 80 feet high), I was able to work 34 European stations in just the 05Z hour (the total was about 20 higher), which is near sunrise in Central and Eastern Europe. Some signals were very strong. I worked multiple stations each in Russia, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, and Lithuania. Also worked was D4Z in Cape Verde, LU8DPM in Argentina (best DX), and OH0R in the Aland Islands.

“Conditions on almost all nights recently have been excellent on 80 and 160 meters. Hannes, DK1NO, is routinely S9 +20dB on 75-meter phone around 23-24Z. After months of not hearing him, I managed to work Santi, VU2GSM, in India on both 40 and 80-meter CW in the past 2 weeks. He operates nearly every day based on the DX cluster spots. I also heard UA9BA in Asiatic Russia with a good signal on 160-meter CW on January 2 at around 0215Z working a European. I have added many new band-slot countries to my log in the past 3 weeks on the low bands.

“Twenty-meter conditions virtually every day are excellent to Central and Western Europe. Fifteen meters has been nearly closed to Europe, but I hear occasional stations in the Mediterranean area around 14-15Z and most days the band is open to Africa well with very sparse activity.

“Ten meters has been essentially dead for F2 propagation recently and sporadic E has been very limited compared to seasonal norms. We did have a good Es opening during the ARRL 10-Meter Contest to Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin on the second Saturday morning of December. The primary mode of ionospheric propagation during the contest was meteor scatter enhanced by the Geminids meteor shower. There was an opening to South America Saturday afternoon.”

N8II reported on January 9: “Propagation has been quite interesting this week with unexpected happenings on 160 through 10 meters. On January 6 there was a good but poorly attended 15-meter opening to Europe; OK2PAY in the Czech Republic was worked 599 at 1354Z followed by IW5EKR/M on 15 SSB at 1403Z. I also worked VA2RF in Quebec just north of the Maine border. I strongly suspect a sporadic E on the North American end to an F2 link for this opening. I then had a big run of about 20 Western European stations on 20-meter SSB from 1530-1630Z (1630 is a bit late for good conditions). The 7th seemed down from normal, but I did work France, Spain, and Daniel, ZD7DL, on St. Helena Island on 17 meters at around 1600Z.

“Last evening, January 8, there was strong sporadic E on 10-meter SSB from 2200-2225Z. I logged stations in Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa. After a dinner break at 2322Z, I logged 3D2AG/P on Rotuma Island at 2322Z on 17-meter CW at about 80 minutes past sunset thanks to the Es-to-F2 link to the west. Starting at 2327Z there was a best-it-ever-gets opening to Europe on 160-meter CW. IK5ZUK in Italy averaged S9+20db and I also worked very loud IK5ZUL, as well as Romania, Spain, England, Denmark, and Sweden.

“Today, January 9, there was another very intense sporadic E opening on 10-meters SSB from 2126Z until past 0135Z. I logged stations in Kansas, Minnesota, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Ohio. At 0117Z, LA5MIA in northern Norway was logged at an S7 signal lever via auroral Es. There was very little Es from December 16 through January 5, so these openings were quite a pleasant surprise. Many stations with simple antennas were S9 or better!”

Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW reported: “Today, January 9, at 3 AM local (0800 UTC) a rare winter season sporadic-E event occurred on the 11-meter band in Easton, Pennsylvania (FN20jq). States heard were toward the south, Florida, Alabama, and as far west as Texas.

“The Kp index rose to 4, which aided to produce auroras over the southern Canadian provinces that stretched from coast-to-coast with a solar flux index (SFI) of 74. It seems that Solar Cycle 25 is very slowly intensifying out of its slumber.”

Here is a news article about transition to Cycle 25: https://bit.ly/2QVHqto

Watch W1PJE’s MIT lecture on solar physics and HF propagation: https://bit.ly/35wM9He

If you would like to make a comment or have a tip for our readers, email the author at k7ra@arrl.net.

For more information concerning radio propagation, see http://www.arrl.org/propagation and the ARRL Technical Information Service at http://arrl.org/propagation-of-rf-signals. For an explanation of numbers used in this bulletin, see http://arrl.org/the-sun-the-earth-the-ionosphere.

An archive of past propagation bulletins is at http://arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive-propagation. More good information and tutorials on propagation are at http://k9la.us/.

Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve overseas locations are at http://arrl.org/propagation.

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are at http://arrl.org/bulletins

Sunspot numbers for January 2 through 8, 2020 were 13, 13, 11, 11, 11, 0, and 0, with a mean of 8.4. 10.7 cm flux was 71.9, 71.2, 72.2, 71.8, 70.5, 71.6, and 73.7, with a mean of 71.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 3, 6, 6, 9, 9, 5, and 6, with a mean of 6.3. Middle latitude A index was 2, 6, 5, 7, 9, 4, and 4, with a mean of 5.3. (www.arrl.org)

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