Friday, March 28, 2008

23 vs 24!

Well it seems that I was a little optimistic about solar cycle 24. The recent activity belongs to cycle 23! Unbelievable but true. Read the following note taken from NASA page and you understand what is really going on.

Barely three months after forecasters announced the beginning of new Solar Cycle 24, old Solar Cycle 23 has returned. Actually, it never left. Read on.
"This week, three big sunspots appeared and they are all old cycle spots," says NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. "We know this because of their magnetic polarity."
Earlier today, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) made this magnetic map of the sun:

It shows the north and south magnetic poles of the three sunspots. All are oriented according to the patterns of Solar Cycle 23. Cycle 24 spots would be reversed.
What's going on? Hathaway explains: "We have two solar cycles in progress at the same time. Solar Cycle 24 has begun (the first new-cycle spot appeared in January 2008), but Solar Cycle 23 has not ended."
Strange as it sounds, this is perfectly normal. Around the time of solar minimum--i.e., now--old-cycle spots and new-cycle spots frequently intermingle. Eventually Cycle 23 will fade to zero, giving way in full to Solar Cycle 24, but not yet.

Meanwhile, on March 25th, sunspot 989, the smallest of the three sunspots, unleashed an M2-class solar flare. Flares are measured on a "Richter scale" ranging from A-class (puny) to X-class (powerful). M-class flares are of medium intensity. This one hurled a coronal mass ejection or "CME" into space (movie), but the billion-ton cloud missed Earth.

While the CME was still plowing through the sun's atmosphere, amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft heard "a heaving sound" coming from the loudspeaker of his 21 MHz shortwave receiver in New Mexico: listen. It was a Type II solar radio burst generated by shock waves at the leading edge of the CME. A thousand miles away in Virginia, David Thomas recorded the same emissions on a chart recorder he connected to his 20 MHz ham rig: look. "What a pleasant surprise," says Thomas.

We could get more of this kind of activity in the next 7 to 10 days. It will take about that long for the sunspots to cross the face of the sun. The sun's rotation is turning the spots toward Earth, which means the next CME, if there is one, might not miss. CME strikes do no physical harm to Earth but they can cause Northern Lights, satellite glitches and, in extreme cases, power outages.

The real significance of these spots is what they say about the solar cycle, says Hathaway. "Solar Cycle 24 has begun, but we won't be through solar minimum until the number of Cycle 24 spots rises above the declining number of Cycle 23 spots." Based on this latest spate of "old" activity, he thinks the next Solar Max probably won't arrive until 2012.

Stay tuned to Science@NASA for solar cycle updates.

Welcome 24

The sun waked up at last. As a permanent space weather watcher I had to see so many sun spots for months. the solar flux is better than 80 and the new trip started for good. No doubt the 24 cycle is here and loud. Be patient to see the results in propagation terms. But of course it is a bit early for that.

Writing these words an other major expedition that kept us company for several days is QRT. The 9X0R was a well organized, well equipped and having great operators. The recent expedition in Rwanda by German guys does not affect at all their popularity. Especially their online log even with some glitches and not real time as they expected, it gave them a great push. I worked them in 19 of 20 slots they showed up, but there are many they worked the whole 20.

By the way tonight we have little party, celebrating my Honor Roll. Well, not yet achieved as 3 final cards are missing (the entities have been worked and it is a matter of QSLing), but who can wait to drink some beers for that? You are all invited!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"TX5C went QRT 1400z March 15th 2008, two days earlier than originally planned. Due to both weather and sea conditions, the Captain of the Shogun determined that an earlier departure was required to ensure the safety of his crew and our team. We began moving equipment offshore two days prior in challenging conditions. By the time the last team members were extracted from the atoll late in the day, all but one of the zodiac spare propellers had been broken on the reef. The Shogun pulled anchor at 0130z March 16th and as the sun set, the team watched Clipperton Atoll slowly fade from view."

The expedition wend worse than anticipated due to the weather and other causes. The target of 100,000 qso was not approached. It turned out to be quite more difficult to operate as they want in this remote place of the world under a fierce nature and extreme temperatures. As for me my qsl card is on its way to
N7CQQ to be cfm. And this is the last step as you Know. The 9X0R and 5T5DC are just routine exercises.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The last one!

They are already on the island. Tomorrow we will start hear them on the bands. Hopping that the propagation will help as it does with Ducie, we will work them to many bands. So warm the machines up! As for me this is the expedition that will complete my Honor Roll and for this reason I will love it and remember it the years to come. Here are their first words from the battlefield:
"We are on Clipperton Atoll! It's 0133z as we write this. We had a successful landing and have loaded quite a bit of our camp gear to the island. Our base camp is set up and we're all tired but full of enthusiasm! In the morning we will begin the construction of our operating stations on the north side of the island exactly where we had hoped to be able to land. We are excited about this as this location will provide the best paths for us to work the world. We will update this page in the morning in more detail but we wanted you all to know we are safe and are on the island."