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The K7RA Solar Update

12/14/2018

Our recent reporting week (December 6-12) had sunspots on five of the seven days, with an average daily sunspot number of 9.7, up from 2.3 in the previous seven days. Average daily solar flux rose from 68.9 to 70.7. Geomagnetic indices were moderate, with average daily planetary A index rising from 7 to 8, and mid-latitude A index increasing from 4.9 to 6.4.

Predicted solar flux over the next 45 days is 70 on December 14-19, 68 on December 20-22, 70 on December 23 to January 4, 68 on January 5-18, and 70 on January 19-27.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on December 14-15, 8 on December 16-17, 5 on December 18-27, then 8, 12, 10 and 8 on December 28-31, 5 on January 1-2, 10 on January 3-4, 8 on January 5-6, 5 on January 7, 8 on January 8-9, 5 on January 10-12, 8 on January 13-14, 5 on January 15-23, then 8, 12, 10 and 8 on January 24-27.

 

Geomagnetic activity forecast for the period December 14, 2018 to January 9, 2019 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH.

Geomagnetic field will be:

Quiet on December 14-15, 18-23,

Quiet to unsettled on December 16, 24-27, January 9

Quiet to active on December 17, 28, January 1-2

Unsettled to active on December 29, (30-31), January 3-8

No Active or disturbed days predicted.

Solar wind will intensify on December 15-18, 24-27, and 28-31, as well as January 1, 3-4, 5-7, and the 8th.

Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement”

 

On December 11 N0JK reported on the ARRL 10-meter Contest from Kansas: "Much better conditions in the ARRL 10-meter contest this year than last.

“On Saturday afternoon, had E-skip on 10 to W4 and W5, which allowed links on to F2/TEP propagation to South America. Running just 5 watts, I logged CE, CX, LU and PY stations via Es link. Double hop Es to HK, P4 and PJ2. Single hop Es to W4 and W5.

“On Sunday the band conditions not nearly as good, but see the northeast states had strong Es to Florida. This in turn allowed them to link on to South America. See DX maps, which clearly show this classic setup. Also, strong single hop Es along the West Coast.

“I experienced some weak Es in Kansas, and heard CO8RH, but he faded out while I was fiddling with my hand key. I was able to work 9Z4Y on 10-meter CW."

 

Another report on last weekend's 10-meter contest was from Jeff Hartley, N8II in West Virginia: "Conditions last weekend were much better than last year in the ARRL 10-meter contest. My first contact beyond local range was VE2FK in Quebec at 0045Z (Friday local time) followed by contacts with stations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota starting 10 minutes later. Then Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick came through, followed by the Gulf coast from Texas to Florida, all on sporadic E (Es). At 0220Z there was a brief double hop Es opening to Colorado and Nebraska. At around 0300Z, Florida came back in and even at 0420Z Florida stations were still good copy but fading.

“Saturday started slow until 1416Z when I found W0WP in Iowa, followed by one station in Wisconsin on scatter. The next opening was 1540Z when CE7VPQ in Chile was found on SSB (the first F2 contact) followed by Argentina and Brazil. Then, at 1622Z, Es started from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, followed by Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Kansas.

“At 1740Z, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas were loud and soon after XE2HQI in northern Mexico was found. Southern South America was back at 1800Z along with some F2 backscatter contacts into the W8/9 call areas. Then, New Mexico was found at 1826Z on either double hop Es or F2 and K6AM in California at 1831Z.

“For the next hour, a huge number of stations were worked, mostly in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Nevada, as well as backscatter into Ontario and W1/2 along with several XEs in Mexican states, mostly on F2. A big surprise was being called by VK2BJ in New South Wales, Australia on CW at 1851Z. It was my best DX of contest!

“The band stayed open to South America and Mexico until about 2035Z with my last contacts being with stations in Bonaire and Columbia. Another amazing contact was with ZL6YOTA (Youths on The Air) in New Zealand at 0200Z, probably via double hop Es into F2 on the other end.

“Sunday conditions were much poorer after a very good sporadic E opening to Florida until about 1420Z. There were marginal openings to South America along with some scatter (meteor and ionospheric). W0AIH in WI was almost constantly readable on ionospheric scatter and a few other Midwest stations were worked via scatter as well. Starting at 1518Z, Aruba, Curacao, and Venezuela were all added as new countries in a spotlight F2 opening. 

“Conditions were good enough to allow 63 contacts with Florida, 24 with Arizona, 9 with Mexico, and 23 with California. I also logged 69 locals in Maryland."

 

The latest from Dr. Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW: Whirlwind of a Season

“Dear Tad: It’s hard to believe I haven't written since Thanksgiving. Many of you already know I have had a challenging go of it over the last six weeks or so. Between the southern California wildfires coming so close to my home and now two members of my immediate family having emergency medical procedures, it’s been a whirlwind of a season! I cannot express the depth of my appreciation for all the notes of comfort and encouragement I have received from you recently. Your kind words and patience through it all have helped me stay positive and hopeful during this crazy ride.

"As for your recent emails, I am finally able to begin writing back. So, if you are expecting an answer from me, it will be coming in the next few days! Also, to play catch up, I recently did a live mini-course on Space Weather indices. This is a complicated topic that you can't find well explained anywhere. It has turned out to be one of my most popular courses and I've gotten amazing feedback about how helpful it has been to everyone. So, just in case you missed it but want to see it, I am including a link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVgZQqUYemc.”

“Concerning the forecast this week, we have been enjoying an extended period of moderately fast solar wind. The weak storming kept us at unsettled conditions, which brought aurora to high latitudes and improved GPS at low latitudes over the past 10 days. However, the Space Weather will slowly quiet down as we approach week's end. Thankfully, not all is going quiet. Three new active regions are now facing Earth and are boosting the solar flux. This means amateur and shortwave radio should improve, especially on Earth's day side. With any luck, these regions will continue to brighten the Sun's face over the next week. So, despite conditions quieting down, between the recent aurora and now the elevated flux, it looks like the Sun is already beginning to spread the holiday cheer!”

Here is Dr. Skov’s latest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcrsMDS5CkY

 

In last week’s bulletin, ARLP049, I noted a new updated forecast for smoothed sunspot numbers and solar flux from NOAA on pages 10-11 at: ftp://ftp.swpc.noaa.gov/pub/warehouse/2018/WeeklyPDF/prf2257.pdf

These seemed to show predicted activity headed for extremely low numbers out to the year 2022, with most of that year having no sunspots. I believe these numbers are suspect, because if you look at solar flux numbers they go to some low values that have not been seen ever before.

These smoothed numbers are a moving average over a whole year. It shows the smoothed solar flux going down to 59, which has not been seen ever before. I inspected daily solar flux during the last minimum and decided to look at the six months on both sides of 7/17/2008. If I average the flux values for a year centered on that date, I get a value of 68.68. Around that time in 2008-2009 there were extended periods with no sunspots.

So, I suspect there are errors in these predictions, and will wait for NOAA to clarify this forecast and probably correct them.

 

For more information concerning radio propagation, see 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 December 6 through 12, 2018 were 17, 16, 12, 12, 0, 11, and 0, with a mean of 9.7. 10.7 cm flux was 69.7, 70.1, 70.5, 71.6, 71, 71, and 70.8, with a mean of 70.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 10, 10, 9, 11, 7, and 4, with a mean of 8. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 3, 8, 10, 6, 8, 7, and 3, with a mean of 6.4.

 



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