The K7RA Solar Update


This week geomagnetic indices quieted a bit, as did solar activity in general. On November 9, sunspot numbers reached a high of 220, and this week, they declined, rose to 176 and then declined again. The average daily sunspot numbers slipped 8.4 points to 145, while the average daily solar flux dropped 12.5 points to 161.2. Sunspot numbers for November 10-16 were 152, 127, 155, 142, 176, 137 and 126, with a mean of 145. The 10.7 cm flux was 178.6, 173.9, 168.8, 155.3, 161.1, 148.3 and 142.3, with a mean of 161.2. The estimated planetary A indices were 3, 2, 2, 0, 0, 6 and 2, with a mean of 2.1. The estimated mid-latitude A indices were 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 7 and 3 with a mean of 3.4

The most recent forecast predicts a bit lower activity than we’ve seen recently. The predicted solar flux from NOAA and USAF shows flux values of 150 on November 18-19, 155 on November 20-23, 150 on November 24, 145 on November 25-28, and then rising to 165 on December 4-7, which is just a few days before the ARRL 10 Meter Contest. The predicted planetary A index for November 18-19 is 7 and 8, then 5 on November 20-25, 7 on November 26-27, and 5 on November 28-December 8. Geophysical Institute Prague has their own take, with unsettled conditions November 18, quiet to unsettled November 19 and quiet November 20-24. Conditions should be good for the ARRL November Phone Sweepstakes Contest this weekend, which runs from 2100 UTC Saturday, November 19 through 0259 UTC Monday, November 21. has an interesting article concerning whether or not the Sun is really headed for a grand minima as some have suggested. The study they cite suggests that an increase in solar activity over the next few decades is just as likely as a decrease. In other words, nobody knows!

Jimmy Mahuron, K9JWJ, of Salem, Indiana, pointed out that the sunspot record no longer matches what we’ve reported in past bulletins. I have an inquiry to NOAA about this. We reported a sunspot number of 220 on November 9, but now that same source shows 208 for that day. More on this next week, no doubt.

There was lots of fun to be had on 10 and 6 meters this past week. Chuck Dennis, WA5ZTD, wrote: “Your article about 10 meters being open was sure right. On November 11 at around 9 AM PST, using just 100 W and a buddipole up about 20 feet in Hillsboro Oregon, I was able to work IK4WKU in Northern Italy, I heard a station in Northern Ireland, Argentina and Brazil. I sure hope it lasts a while.”

Tad Marko, KC5UWS, of Flower Mound, Texas writes: “The QRP story in your recent Solar Update reminded me of my recent first QRP contact. I have had an HF rig for a while now, but had yet to make a contact with it as of October 26. I had just gotten home from work, the kids were playing outside and I had a few minutes before dinner, so I attached my whip antenna to the radio and carried it outside. I perched it precariously atop a short ladder and started tuning up the 10 meter band. At 28.430, I hear a CQ and make out “4MAX” from the call. I’m thinking maybe I’m making 800 miles or so to the East Coast. I reply, not expecting anything, but I get a response. It’s VK4MAX in Queensland, Australia! My first QRP contact is 5 W to go 8300 miles using a compact antenna! He was a solid 59 on my end, and though I was only 41 on his end, he was able to copy my call sign and we had a short QSO. He was absolutely astounded and so was I. This was a very timely contact, as I was about to give up on QRP. I know this isn’t typical, but it sure was fun.” Actually Tad, it may be more typical than you think! We hear many such stories lately with all the recent solar activity.

The 6 meter reports were from K7JA and K7CW.

Chip Margelli, K7JA, of Garden Grove, California, wrote “I worked LU9EHF on November 14 at 0136 UTC on 50 MHz SSB via F2. Also VY2OX and VY2ZM on November 15, around 1835 UTC, along with VE2DLC and several W1 stations. Earlier QSOs included ZL1RS on November 1 (around 2325 UTC), ZL1RS (also on October 24) at 2234 UTC, TX7M on October 25 at 1945 UTC, E51CG on October 26 at 0143 UTC, and VK4FNQ and VK4BKP on October 26 around 0150 UTC.”

Paul Kiesel, K7CW, of Tahuya, Washington, wrote “I got T32C and FO4BM on October 13. This might have been E-s link to TEP. On October 24, I worked FK8CP and on October 26, I worked seven VK4 stations. I think these contacts likely were E-s link to F2, due to the high angle to the perpendicular with the geomagnetic equator. The last couple of days (November 13-15), I’ve gotten VE1, VE2, VE2 and VE9 and VY2, along with W1, W2, W3 and W4. Today (November 15), I had propagation all the way down to South Florida, whereas yesterday and the day before were limited to the northern states and Southern Canada.”

And finally, if you love Morse code, don’t miss this unusual video in which Kristen Haring talks about knitting in Morse code patterns. She wrote a book a few years back called Ham Radio’s Technical Culture that many radio amateurs hated, but I found unusual and quite interesting. Thanks to W0PV for the tip.

All times listed are UTC, unless otherwise noted.

Amateur solar observer Tad Cook, K7RA, of Seattle, Washington, provides this weekly report on solar conditions and propagation. This report also is available via W1AW every Friday, and an abbreviated version appears each Thursday in The ARRL Letter. You can find a guide to articles and programs concerning propagation here. Check here and here for a detailed explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin. An archive of past propagation bulletins can be found here. You can find monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and 12 overseas locations here. Readers may contact the author via e-mail.