Surfin': Chasing Aurora
Bob Bownes, KI2L, alerted the Surfin' desk about an article on the Wired Web site that discusses aurora. The article, "Telegraphs Ran on Electric Air in Crazy 1859 Magnetic Storm," talks about the history of the various scientific theories concerning the cause of the phenomena.
That discussion, in itself, was interesting, but what really blew my mind was the story at the beginning of the article about an auroral event in 1859 that was so strong, telegraph operators in Boston and Portland, Maine disconnected the telegraph wires from their batteries and communicated using the electricity generated "by the atmospheric current entirely."
I have lived in New England all my life and have never seen aurora, but I have had numerous opportunities to use aurora to work distant stations on 144 MHz (typically stations in the Canadian Maritimes and surrounding the Great Lakes).
Whereas I wait for aurora to come to me, I found a ham who goes to the aurora. He is Jeffrey Leer, KG0VL, and his VHF Radio Aurora Research Web site chronicles his and his wife Kim's adventures chasing aurora 1000 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
KG0VL's stories are fascinating and profusely illustrated with photos. There is also a gallery of visible aurora photos, so folks (like me), who have never eye-witnessed the phenomena, can see what we have been missing.
Until next time, keep on surfin'!
Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU