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The K7RA Solar Update


At 2332 UTC on March 22 the Australian Space Forecast Centre issued a geomagnetic disturbance warning for this weekend, March 24-25. “Expect the geomagnetic activity to increase to mostly Active levels with isolated periods of Minor to Major Storm levels due to a high speed solar wind stream associated with a negative polarity coronal hole becoming geo-effective”.

In last week’s report ARLP011 there were no sunspots over the reporting week. On March 15 one new sunspot appeared for a sunspot number of 11, which is the minimum non-zero sunspot number. The next day it was gone, then a new sunspot appeared March 17. Sunspot numbers on March 17-18 were 15 and 13, then none for the rest of our reporting week, March 19-21. So, the average daily sunspot number increased from 0 over the previous week to 5.6 over the most recent 7 days, ending Wednesday March 21.

Average daily solar flux over the same two periods increased from 67.7 to 69.3. Geomagnetic indices about doubled, with average planetary A index changing from 7.1 to 14.4, and mid-latitude A index increasing from 5.7 to 11.3.

Predicted solar flux is 68 on March 23 through April 2, 69 on April 3-4, 70 on April 5-15, 69 on April 16-17, 68 on April 18-29, 69 on April 30 through May 1, and 70 on May 2-6.

Predicted planetary A index is 8, 22, 24, 18 and 8 on March 23-27, 5, 15, 10 and 8 on March 28-31, then 5 on April 1-9, then 8, 15 and 20 on April 10-12, then 15 on April 13-14, then 8 and 12 on April 15-16, 18 on April 17-19, 15 and 8 on April 20-21, and 5 on April 22-25, 8 on April 26-27, and 5 on April 28 through May 6.

The spring equinox began at 1615 UTC on Tuesday, March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere. At that moment solar radiation was equally distributed between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Except for the low solar activity, the beginning of spring should be an ideal time for worldwide HF communication.


Geomagnetic activity forecast for the period March 23 to April 17, 2018 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH.

“Geomagnetic field will be:

Quiet on April 3, 7-9

Mostly quiet on March 28, 30, April 6

Quiet to unsettled on March 26-27, 31, April 1-2, 4-5, 16-18

Quiet to active on March 23-25, 29, April 10-11, 13, 15

Active to disturbed on March 26, April 12, 14

Solar wind will intensify on March 25-28, (31,) April (6-8,) 10-18

Remark: Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement.”


Scott Bidstrup, TI3/W7RI sent this article:

Scott’s observation was that the rogue sunspots toward the end of a solar cycle suggest a weaker subsequent cycle. But I was pleased to see the article suggest that the rogue sunspots could suggest a strong cycle like cycle 19 at the end of the 1950s. That would be exciting!

Scott also wrote: "Down here in the single-digit latitudes, the declining solar cycle has had some interesting effects on propagation. Ten meters has been opening almost every day, sometimes as early as 9AM local time, and providing quite reliable communications into South America through most of the day. By local noon, the FT8 window on 10 meters often looks like the window on 20 meters, packed with signals end to end, but most days into the same region - southern Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, occasionally with Chile. It has all the characteristics of afternoon TEP openings. Almost every day, the band will be open until 3PM or 4PM local time, when it will suddenly fold, in just ten minutes going from wide open to flat dead.

“My daily sunrise coffee klatch with the local gringo hams on 75 meters has been affected by the very low solar activity, too. We usually kick off around local sunrise, but the band has been failing to shorten up for local propagation, often failing to open till as much as an hour after local sunrise. Lately, the band opening has not only been late, it's been remarkably sudden when it does happen, often going from almost no local signals at all, to the strong S9+10 signals in as little as a minute. It's like God's flipping a switch. One of the odder aspects of this is that when the transition occurs, the DX signals occasionally don't fade out for half an hour or more, and we've had to move our frequency because of frequent Stateside QRM on the frequency we've been using without a problem for years. More than once, we've had roundtables with Stateside stations that were as strong our local stations were - at least until the D-layer finally kicks in and they're faded out and gone. Occasionally, the DX fades well before the local propagation opens, too. It's all very unpredictable.

“One hundred and sixty meters down here has greatly benefited from the FT8 revolution, as well as the improved conditions for top band at the bottom of the solar cycle. It seems that lots of the locals, me included, have discovered that a hundred watts into a force-tuned 80-meter antenna will produce useful results on 160-meter FT8. In my own case, I've worked many European stations, including Belarus and Greece, using nothing more than 60 watts into a G5RV antenna at 50 feet. The best DX seems to be appearing about two hours after the band opens at sunset. My good friend Jay, HP3AK, has worked a couple of dozen European and Far East stations using a 60-foot folded 160-meter vertical monopole with only seven radials. All in all, it's been a lot of fun being able to work someone on Top Band without going to all the effort of putting up a dedicated antenna. With all our atmospheric noise here, this is a new experience for most all of us."


The CQ World-Wide WPX SSB Contest is this weekend. See


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An archive of past propagation bulletins is at More good information and tutorials on propagation are at

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Sunspot numbers for March 15 through 21, 2018 were 11, 0, 15, 13, 0, 0, and 0, with a mean of 5.6. 10.7 cm flux was 69, 68.6, 69.7, 69.1, 70.3, 68.8, and 69.3, with a mean of 69.3. Estimated planetary A indices were 15, 20, 13, 25, 16, 8, and 4, with a mean of 14.4. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 13, 17, 10, 16, 13, 7, and 3, with a mean of 11.3.