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Surfin’: Chasing Aurora (But Don’t Tell My Wife)

02/10/2012

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ chases aurora on the air and on the tube.

Although I have lived all my life north of latitude 41 and have dabbled in amateur astronomy, I have never been an eyewitness of aurora borealis.

I have heard the effects of aurora on 144 MHz propagation many times, and on 28 MHz one time. And I have taken advantage of that enhanced propagation to work DX, but I have never seen the northern lights with my very own eyes.

YouTube has a slew of aurora videos online, so I can see what I was missing, but even cooler are the videos of aurora from the perspective of the International Space Station (ISS). I particularly like this one, because in addition to the aurora, I can see the lights from my house as the ISS flies up the East Coast.

Working DX via aurora is something completely different. As KC9BQA suggests, point your antennas at the aurora, not the DX, and the sound of aurora propagated signals is unlike anything else you have ever heard. On CW, instead of a clear modulated tone, you hear a ghostly whooshing sound like this.

By the way, just because you can hear the effects of aurora on the radio does not mean you can see it simultaneously in your back yard. Believe me, I’ve looked.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, enjoys the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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