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The K7RA Solar Update

10/30/2020

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Our sun is finally waking up. The average daily sunspot number rose this week from 15 to 17, which is nothing remarkable, but the reporting week ended on Wednesday with a daily sunspot number of 36. Average daily solar flux rose from 74.5 to 76.9.

The two sunspot regions currently visible, 2778 and 2779, have been growing rapidly. The total sunspot areas in millionths of the solar disc on October 27 – 29 were 140, 230, and 440. Such activity has not been seen since May 5 – 7, 2019, when the total sunspot area was 280, 300, and 410. Going farther back, the last time the sunspot area was higher than the 440 we saw on Thursday was late September and early October 2017, when the sunspot area reached 560. You can find these old records here.

Predicted solar flux is 88 on October 30 – 31, which is remarkable; 82, 78, 75, and 72 on November 1 – 4; 74 on November 5 – 7; 75 on November 8 – 12; 72 on November 13; 70 on November 14 – 21; 74 and 72 on November 22 – 23; 70 on November 24 – 26; 72 on November 27; 74 on November 28 – December 4; 75 on December 5 – 9; 72 on December 10, and 70 on December 11 – 13.

Predicted planetary A index is 8, 5, 12, and 8 on October 30 – November 2; 5 on November 3 – 6; 10 on November 7; 5 on November 8 – 16; 10, 8, and 12 on November 17 – 19; 18, 15, and 20 on November 20 – 22; 15, 10, and 8 on November 23 – 25; 5 on November 26 – 27; 8 on November 28, and 5 on November 29 – December 13.

F.K. Janda, OK1HH, sends his geomagnetic activity forecast for the period October 30 – November 25.

The geomagnetic field will be:

  • quiet on November 5 – 7, 10 – 11

  • quiet to unsettled on October 31, November 12 – 15

  • quiet to active on October (30,) November (3 – 4, 8 – 9,) 16, 23 – 25

  • unsettled to active November (1 – 2, 17 – 19,) 21 – 22

  • active to disturbed November 20

  • Solar wind will intensify on October (30 – 31,) November (2,) 3 – 5, (18 – 20,) 21 – 25

Note: Parentheses mean lower probability of activity enhancement. OK1HH predicts disturbed conditions on the day prior to the ARRL November Sweepstakes phone weekend (November21 – 22), but over that weekend, Friday through Sunday, the NOAA/USAF prediction sees the planetary A index at 18, 15, and 20.

I frequently check the PSK Reporter map for connections from CN87, my local grid square. With the increasing solar activity over the past couple of days I’ve seen worldwide 12-meter propagation via FT8 reported.

I also check the STEREO site to peek across the solar horizon looking for upcoming activity. Right now on Thursday night I see some big white blotches, in both the southern and northern hemispheres, indicating possible activity.

We received this report on October 29 from Jeff, N8II, in West Virginia:

“Today was a great day on 10 – 15 meters, with the SFI reported as high as 88! I was slow to get started, but worked about 20 Europeans on 10 meters with some signals around S-9. At one point, four out of five CW QSOs in a row were new band slots on 10-meter CW in my 4-year-old log: Hungary, Ireland, Slovak Republic, and Montenegro, also adding Serbia. Some signals from England, Wales, and Italy were still good copy past 1600 UTC. Most 12-meter activity was FT8, but I did work loud stations from France and Bulgaria.

“In the CQ WW phone contest, I worked mainly 15, but was peeking at 10 long enough to work four stations in Italy quite early around 1325 UTC; at the same time there was sporadic E to Newfoundland on Saturday. I worked three French stations, plus OE2S in Austria, DL5L in Germany, and the loudest, PI4DX in the Netherlands, about S-8 in the 1500 UTC hour on Sunday.

“I expected to hear no signals on 15 at the 0000 UTC start, as it was nearly 2 hours past sunset. I was surprised to make 26 QSOs before the band died past 0100 UTC. At the start, there was sporadic E to Florida and Cuba, and stations from southern South America were workable. Into the Pacific, I worked three stations in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia.

“All weekend the K index was either 3 or 4, and especially on Saturday, it hurt propagation to Europe despite an early opening to southern Europe. The most northern QSOs were Scotland and Poland. But, there were plenty of stations from central and western Europe to work, and late in the opening I caught a big gun in the Ukraine. The 250-kHz phone band filled up by 1300 UTC. I could tell that propagation to Germany was limited, and UK stations were not as loud as on a recent ‘normal’ day. In fact, Friday before the WW was one of the best European openings of the season so far.

“In the afternoon many stations in South America were active, particularly from Brazil and Argentina, but signals mid-afternoon were weaker than expected. African signals from the Madeira and Canary Islands were loud until about 1900 UTC. I also worked 7Q6M in Malawi, and ZS6TVB in South Africa. Over both days, conditions were often good to the Middle East. I logged Israel, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, missing Lebanon which I had worked multiple times the week prior. The last stations worked were around 2340 UTC in Mexico.

“Sunday, conditions were better to Europe and South America. I started filling in the Northern European map, working Belarus, UB7K in southern Russia, Lithuania, OH0V, in Aland Islands, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, missing two weak stations from Estonia. After the band closed fairly late to Europe, there was an auroral sporadic E opening to Finland around 2000 UTC working OH1F and OG6N about 3 kHz apart.

“Band crowding was severe during the European opening, making it hard to hear weaker signals. I noticed US big guns working European stations I could not hear or barely heard the last 90 minutes of the opening. ZD7BG on St. Helena in the South Atlantic was very difficult to work, due to the pile-up, but finally it logged around 1915. I kept looking for Alaska, Japan, or north/east Pacific stations to no avail, due to the disturbed conditions both days. South American stations were workable an hour past sunset, but no new Pacific countries were heard.”

Jon Jones, N0JK, of Lawrence, Kansas wrote:

“Last week's bulletin mentioned sporadic-E reported by Mike, KA3JAW on 6 meters on October 17. More sporadic-E appeared on 6 meters the following week, and some interesting links and propagation occurred.

“On October 22, there was a major sporadic E opening on 50 MHz across the eastern half of North America. The sporadic E was able to link to late afternoon TEP (trans-equatorial-propagation) on to Brazil. Stations in New England and along the eastern seaboard were able to work deep into Brazil. This with a solar flux of only 75.

“October 24 sporadic E took place from the Heartland to the southeast states in the evening on 50 MHz. KF0M (EM17), N0LL (EM09), and N0JK (EM28) made 6-meter FT8 contacts to Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina around 0030 (October 25 UTC). Earlier, I had sporadic E on 10 meters to Mexico, working XE1KK and XE1RK on 28.074 MHz FT8.

“The following morning a very unusual opening took place on 6 meters around 1440 UTC. Transatlantic multi-hop sporadic Es occurred from New England to central Europe. This is the first transatlantic October sporadic E opening I am aware of. Es openings are rare in October, and a multi-hop transatlantic opening of this magnitude is incredible.”

Max White, M0VNG, sent this from the UK concerning our sun’s reawakening:

Here’s the latest from Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW.

Sunspot numbers for October 22 – 28 were 11, 11, 11, 11, 17, 22, and 36, with a mean of 17. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 74.9, 72, 72.1, 74.2, 75, 82.4, and 87.6, with a mean of 76.9. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 12, 17, 15, 15, 9, and 12, with a mean of 12.3. Middle latitude A index was 3, 10, 16, 9, 15, 7, and 9, with a mean of 9.9.

For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service, read “What the Numbers Mean…,” and check out K9LA’s Propagation Page.

A propagation bulletin archive is available. For customizable propagation charts, visit the VOACAP Online for Ham Radio website.

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are on the ARRL website.

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