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The K7RA Solar Update

12/04/2020

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot Cycle 25 is 1 year old, and increasing solar activity continues to surprise and amaze.

Average daily sunspot numbers more than doubled every week over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago, we reported average daily sunspot numbers of 12. Last week, the average was 27.9. This week the average daily sunspot number at sits at 57.6.

In the past week the highest daily sunspot number was 84 on Sunday, November 29, and solar flux also peaked that day, at 116.3, pushing the week’s average solar flux to 108.1, up from 90.1 over the previous 7 days, and from 79.8 the week prior to that.

Geomagnetic indicators were moderate, despite several solar flares, including a solar flare on November 29 that was the most powerful solar flare and coronal mass ejection (CME) in the new solar cycle — a sure sign of increasing activity. It was not Earth-directed, however. Here’s a Michigan Live report, and a report received from Frank Donovan, W3LPL.

Predicted solar flux over the next 45 days is 100, 95, 90, 85, and 80 on December 4 – 8; 75 on December 9 – 11; 85 on December 12; 82 on December 13 – 16; 85, 90, and 100 on December 17 – 19; 105 on December 20 – 21; 108 on December 22; 110 on December 23 – 25; 115 on December 26 – 27; 113 on December 28 – 30; 110 on December 31; 105 and 103 on January 1 – 2; 95 on January 3 – 4; 92 and 88 on January 5 – 6; 85 on January 7 – 8; 82 on January 9 – 12; 85, 90, and 100 on January 13 – 15, and 105 on January 16 – 17.

Planetary A index is predicted at 5 on December 4 – 17; 12, 20, and 8 on December 18 – 20; 5 on December 21 – 22; 8, 10, and 8 on December 23 – 25; 5 on December 26 – January 13, and 12, 20, 8, and 5 on January 14 – 17.

F.K. Janda, OK1HH, reports the geomagnetic activity forecast for December 4 – 29. The geomagnetic field will be:

  • quiet on December 6 – 7, 12 – 13, (14 – 16)

  • quiet to unsettled on December 8 – 11, 21, 28

  • quiet to active on December 4 ( – 5), 17, 22 – 23, 26, 29

  • unsettled to active December 18, 20, (24 – ) 25, (27)

  • active to disturbed December 19

  • Solar wind will intensify on December 4, (5 – 8, 11, 19,) 20 – 22, (23,) 27 (28 – 29)

Parentheses mean lower probability of activity enhancement.

Jeff Hartley, N8II, reports from FM19cj in Shepherdstown, West Virginia:

“About 10 days does not make an average, but I can never remember such a sudden sustained increase in SFI as the new cycle begins. Perhaps October 1978 may have been similar, but I assume that flux was already fairly high in the preceding months, and the new cycle was only about a year from the peak.

“Conditions — or at least activity — seemed to be down a bit in the week preceding the CQ World Wide CW contest until Friday, which seemed better. Twenty meters was a bit disappointing at the Saturday November 0000 UTC start, with most DX coming from southern South America.

“D4Z on Cape Verde was loud and continued to be loud through most of the weekend on 20.

“I managed a marginal scatter with Italy beaming at 150° (over Brazil).

“Moving to 40 at 0023 UTC, signals were loud from Germany and Hungary farther south. At 0121, 7Q6M Malawi and CR3W Madeira Islands were logged easily on 40. On 80 at 0220, I could work EU excluding Russia north of the Black Sea area and the Baltic States, but signals were not that loud. 160 was very tough, with large pile-ups on North American DX and not much readable from Africa or Europe.

“I resumed on 20 at 1158 UTC about 10 minutes before sunrise, and the band was already full of loud Europeans even open already to Russia. Signal levels were very good with high activity. R8WF in Asia (but still in the EU Russian Zone 16) was my best DX to the east.

“By 1309, signals from EU were building nicely on 15 from nearly all corners. Some of my first contacts were OH3077F in Finland, RL6M southern Russia, LY4T Lithuania, and UT7NY Ukraine. By 1430, northern EU was mostly gone on 15, but I maintained a good EU QSO rate until about 1522. A brief visit to 10 then found Spain (very weak), Canary Islands, Puerto Rico, French Guiana, and Cayman Islands. Then it was back to 20 with good western EU conditions until about 1700, staying there working Europe until 1721. 5H3EE Tanzania went into my 15-meter log at 1735.

“Starting at 1741, 10 was open well into Chile and Argentina, and a bit less so to Brazil. The 10-meter SA opening was starting to fade at 1900. Back on 20 at 1927, there was a good auroral sporadic-E opening to Scandinavia on 20. ZM1M New Zealand had a good long path signal at 1953, as did VK4TS in Queensland, Australia, shortly after that.

“On 15, starting at 2015, I worked New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, and Alaska. A quick check of 10 at 2105 yielded five contacts with loud Hawaiians. I worked the first Japanese station, JA1ZGO, at 2125, but the auroral curtain was like a wall, and only big gun JAs were worked through 2355. I heard three Chinese stations due north from here, but didn’t make any contacts.

“At sunset 2151, southern SA was loud, and I was thrilled to work JR1GSE at 2157. The low-band conditions were not good to northern EU on any band during the evening, but 40 did stay open to some extent to southern EU through 0200. Eighty-meter signals from Europe were down, and signals on 160 very weak.

“I managed some quick QSOs on 40 to UN9L, Kazakhstan; VK3GI, Australia, and ZM1A, New Zealand starting at 1133. Twenty was not fully open to EU at 1152, but much better 10 minutes later.

“I logged many EU over the next 70 minutes and was thrilled to be called by EX8MJ Kyrgyzstan who was weak, and UN0L. At 1304, I found good EU signals on 15, and soon some incredibly loud signals 20, peaking to 30 dB over S-9. Even stations in northern and northeastern Europe were very workable, but weaker.

“4L6QL, Georgia was my best DX to the east. At 1424, there was a weak opening to EU on 10. I logged Italy, Slovak Republic, and France, and CR3DX on Madeira (Africa). At 1524 on 10, I found ZD7BG, St. Helena Island, and at 1603 Croatia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and 7Q6M Malawi. CR6K in Portugal was still heard at 1730, very late. The opening to EU on 15 lasted late, still okay but fading at 1650. I was able to keep a good EU QSO rate going on 20 through 1743, much later than on Saturday.”

On December 3, N7RP reported from New Mexico:

“This morning a little after 8 AM local time, I worked HS0ZGC (Thailand) on 12 meters on FT8. He was working South American stations, and I did not see any other US stations work HS0ZGC other than me. I am just running 100 W to a vertical, so I have no idea what path it was. It was amazing, since it must have been around midnight there. He immediately uploaded to LoTW, so the contact is confirmed.”

N7RP’s QRZ.com profile includes a narrative about his life in ham radio.

A 6,000-kilometer transequitorial propagation (TEP) contact between Aruba and Argentina on 2 meter SSB was reported.

Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW, reported from Easton, Pennsylvania (FN20jq):

“On Monday, November 30, 11-meter CB (27 MHz) was very active from coast to coast.

“Even if you’re under heavy rain, with severe thunderstorms you still can detect stations via sporadic E well past the 2,600-mile (4,184-kilometer) range. Background noise levels varied between 3 to 5 dBm.

‘Here are the locations I heard, distance, and sporadic-E hops:

  • AZ (Tempe) — 2,072 miles (3,334 kilometers) (2x)

  • CA (Los Angeles) — 2,384 (3836 kilometers) miles (2x)

  • CA (San Diego) — 2,366 miles (3,807 kilometers) (2x)

  • CO (Denver) — 1,567 miles (2,521 kilometers) (1x)

  • MT (Bozeman) — 1,823 miles (2,933 kilometers) (2x)

  • NM (Albuquerque) — 1,749 (2,814 kilometers) (1x)

  • NV (Los Vegas) — 2,167 miles (3,487 kilometers) (2x)

  • OK (Oklahoma City) — 1,261 miles (2,029 kilometers) (1x)

  • PR (San Juan) — 2,625 miles (4,224 kilometers) (2x)

  • TX (San Antonio) — 1,524 miles (2,452 kilometers) (1x)

  • TX (El Paso) — 1,839 miles (2,959 kilometers) (2x)

  • UT (Salt Lake City) — 1,908 miles (3,070 kilometers) (2x)

  • WA (Seattle) — 2,349 miles (3,780 kilometers) (2x)

  • Canada, Alberta (Calgary) — 1,974 miles (3,176 kilometers) (2x)

  • Canada, British Columbia (Vancouver) — 2,377 miles (3,825 kilometers) (2x)

  • Jamaica (Kingston) — 1,569 miles (2,525 kilometers) (1x)

Sunspot numbers for November 26 – December 2 were 43, 60, 67, 84, 62, 46, and 41, with a mean of 57.6. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 105.8, 106.3, 109.6, 116.3, 109.4, 104.1, and 104.9, with a mean of 108.1. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 8, 10, 6, 8, 2, and 4, with a mean of 6.4. Middle latitude A index was 5, 7, 9, 6, 6, 2, and 4, with a mean of 5.6.

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.

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