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The K7RA Solar Update

05/07/2021

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Our sun seems to have fallen back into a very quiet phase, far different from the way it looked in November 2020. That was 6 months ago, and we assumed that since we were emerging from a solar minimum, by now we would be seeing much more solar activity. It hasn’t happened. More recently, sunspots disappeared after May 1, and solar flux naturally declined as well.

Sunspots were visible only the first 3 days of the April 29 – May 5 reporting week, so the average daily sunspot number declined from 47.6 last week to 11.9 in the current period.

But early this morning, May 7, a new sunspot group 2822 is emerging over the sun’s northeastern horizon. You can see it as that white splotchy mass crossing the upper left in this STEREO satellite image.

Over the past week the average daily solar flux slipped by 7 points, from 79.2 to 72.2. It seems odd, but both the average daily planetary and middle latitude A index remained the same for both weeks, 10.7 and 9.9 respectively.

Predicted solar flux for the next month appears listless, never even reaching 80, with values of 71 on May 7; 72 on May 8 – 9; 74 on May 10 – 11; 75 on May 12 – 13; 77 on May 14; 79 on May 15 – 17; 77 on May 18 – 21; 75 on May 22 – 24; 74 on May 25 – 26; 72 on May 27; 70 on May 28 – 31; 72 on June 1 – 4, and 74 on June 5 – 7.

The planetary A index projection shows 5 on May 7 – 8; 8 on May 9 – 10; 5 on May 11 – 13; 15 on May 14 – 16; 12 on May 17; 5 on May 18 – 19; 15 and 10 on May 20 – 21; 5 on May 22 – 29; 12 on May 30 – 31; 10 on June 1, and 5 on June 2 – 6.

Here’s the geomagnetic activity forecast for May 7 – June 1 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH.

The geomagnetic field will be:

  • quiet on: May 7 – 8, 18 – 19, 25 – 26

  • quiet to unsettled on: May 9 – 11, 17, 24, 31, June 1

  • quiet to active on: May 12, (20 – 23, 27)

  • unsettled to active: May 16, 28 – 30

  • active to disturbed: May 13 – 14, (15)

  • Solar wind will intensify on: May (10 – 11, 16,) 17 – 18, (21 – 25,) 28 – 30

Remarks:

>Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement.

>Contradictory indications significantly reduce the accuracy of the forecast.

Contester Frank Donovan, W3LPL, says about twice as many geomagnetic storms occur during March and April, as compared to June and July. The ratio of severe (Kp = 8 or 9) storms is much greater. But, he points out, the end of “geomagnetic storm season” doesn’t mean the end of geomagnetic storms; two of the most severe (Kp = 8+) geomagnetic storms during Solar Cycle 24 occurred on June 22 and 23, 2015.

Storms during June and July are not as frequent, as strong, nor as long lasting as they are during the geomagnetic storm seasons of March/April and September/October. But geomagnetic storms even the most severe storms (Kp = 8 or 9) can occur at any time with little warning.

We’ve had two moderate (Kp = 6) storms so far this year, both during March. We also had eight minor (Kp = 5) storms: five in March and one each in January, February, and April.

Often I will check PSKReporter for FT8 signals reported on 6 or 10 meters over the most recent 15 minutes. If I set it to “country of the call sign” instead of my grid square, I often notice signals detected in the southeast of North America when nothing is happening here on the west coast.

Right now late at night, it is reporting 6 meter FT8 signals over a 545-mile path from N2GHR to N8NQ at 0639 UTC, and then on 10 meters at 0658 UTC 381 miles KO4FSZ to KC2DUX at –2 dB. That’s almost audible!

KB1XP in Connecticut (FN31po) reports, “It seems that 20-meter early morning propagation is improving with the increased sunspot activity lately. I had a brief but productive 20-meter band opening on May 3 from 0536 to 0558 EDT and worked JH1XPA, JA7LGE, JR7RHO Japan stations on FT8 with good signal reports. Hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come.”

On May 5, WB8VLC reported from Salem, Oregon, “True to form, 10 meters still provides interesting DX. This weekend like clockwork E51JD was back in on SSB, but this opening was short and much weaker than previous days. But still even with low SFI numbers he was workable.

“On the 29.6-MHz FM side, a good sporadic-e opening on May 2 brought the Los Angeles area in with regulars AA6DD, K6YYL, and N6OS worked with typical 59+ reports on 29.6 FM. Then today, TI2JS on 29.6 FM.

“The interesting day, however, was May 3, when I dropped down to 28.074 FT8 just to see if the band was open, calling CQ DX on FT8. I use it here at times on a quiet band just to see where I should point my beam.

“Well this brought almost two dozen Japan contacts on 10 FT8. But one station, JD1BMH on Ogasawara Island, stood out of the group, and after I signed with Ogasawara on FT8 I dropped down to 28.072 CW, and after just one CQ DX, JD1BMH Ogasawara saw me on his waterfall and came down to CW for a quick contact.

“Sigs with Ogasawara were over 559 on CW both directions, and after we signed JD1BMH called CQ for the next 35 minutes.

“No other Japan stations took the bait to move off FT8 and drop to CW, so it was only Ogasawara worked on CW, which was fine for me.

“Today was another interesting day on 29.6 FM, with TI2JS in Costa Rica worked on FM with nobody else heard all day.

“I worked 22 Japan stations on 28.074 FT8, one KL7, and one VK4, all worked on May 3 on FT8, 28.074.

“On 6 meters on May 2, 3, and 4 a bit of 50.125 SSB, 50.094 CW and even some 52.525 FM brought some nice QSOs with Arizona, Utah and California on 6 meters.”

Steve Sacco, NN4X, sent these articles [1] [2] about timelines of spaceweather storms:

Space Weather Woman Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW, posted her latest report a few days ago.

Sunspot numbers for April 29 – May 5 were 37, 35, 11, 0, 0, 0 and 0, with a mean of 11.9. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 76.9, 72.9, 71.6, 72, 71.6, 70.6, and 69.5, with a mean of 72.2. Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 15, 10, 20, 14, 8, and 3, with a mean of 10.7. Middle latitude A index was 4, 15, 10, 16, 12, 8, and 4, 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.

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