Cycle 24 ….Not Really

Courtesy: STCE Newsletter

My recent postings of Cycle 24's performance has made me wonder about previous cycles. I'm still hunting for the source, but I recall reading of Cycle 19's F2 MUF actually peaking out at over 70MHz on several days of that monster cycle! Knowing just how rare (and difficult) it is to get the F2 MUF to even approach 50MHz, reaching 70MHz is just further testimony to Cycle 19's unheralded performance. I can only imagine how exciting 6m must have sounded at those times, with intercontinental signals of bone-crushing strength.

Although Cycle 19 may be the largest in recorded history, our documentation of solar activity only began in 1759, or Cycle 1. We know that our sun is roughly 7.5 billion years old and in relative terms, evolved rather quickly into something close to what we see today as a main-sequence star. Assuming an 11 year cycle, that's roughly 409 million solar cycles or half that number if you consider the 22-year pole-reversal cycle. Either way you look at it, that's a lot of cycles! I'd be willing to wager that several thousands of these cycles, if not hundreds of thousands, would have made Cycle 19 look pretty wimpy by comparison.

Such cycles make me wonder...just how high could the F2 MUF reach during those cycles?....would it reach 2m or even beyond? It's hard to imagine world-wide F2 propagation on 2m or higher, but why not?

With the Sun almost half-way through its life, there is no question that there are many more gigantic cycles yet to play out. With the existence of radio and human life being just a momentary flash in time, I wonder if any of them will ever be enjoyed by radio amateurs?
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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