Posts Tagged ‘Space weather’

Part 2 of 2: Life-changing Moment and Solar Cycle 25

From the RAIN HamCast episode #57, 2021-XII-25 (used with permission):

RAIN’s Hap Holly/KC9RP spoke with Tomas recently about Solar Cycle 25. This is the second and final excerpt from their discussion.

From the introduction to The RAIN HamCast, Episode #57:

In this episode, we continue our discussion with Tomas Hood/NW7US, the author of many writings about space weather and effects of solar activity the past 20-plus years.

(Part 1 of 2 can be found here: Episode #56, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnuSOXhFELQ)

Tomas has been a short wave enthusiast since 1973, a ham operator since 1990, and is a United States Army Signal Corps veteran today. He launched the first civilian space weather propagation website, HFRadio.org, in the mid 90’s; HFradio later spawned SunSpotWatch.com; at press time Sunspotwatch.com is being revamped for the new Solar Cycle 25.

Tomas has contributed to the Space Weather Propagation column in CQ magazine for over 20 years, and for The Spectrum Monitor magazine since 2014. A product of the Pacific northwest, Tomas resides now in Fayetteville, Ohio.

RAIN’s Hap Holly/KC9RP spoke with Tomas recently about Solar Cycle 25. This is the second and final excerpt from their discussion.​

Here is the second part of the two-part interview:

If you missed part one of this conversation, you’ll find it as RAIN Hamcast #56 both on therainreport.com and on the RAIN Hamcast page on YouTube, as well as here: Episode #56, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnuSOXhFELQ.

RAIN Hamcast #58 will post January 8, 2022. Hap Holly/KC9RP edits and produces this biweekly ham radio podcast. It is copyright 1985-2021 , RAIN, all rights reserved. RAIN programming is made available under a Creative Commons license ; you are encouraged to download, share, post and transmit the RAIN Hamcast in its entirety via Amateur Radio. Your support and feedback are welcome on therainreport.com. Thanks for YouTube Technical Assistance from Tom Shimizu/N9JDI. I’m Will Rogers/K5WLR bidding you very 73 and 44 from the Radio Amateur Information Network.

KEEP ON HAMMING!

Footnote: Yes, NW7US misspoke about the time it takes sunlight to travel from the Sun to the Earth. He meant that it takes sunlight and radio waves just over 8 minutes to make that trip…

 

Solar Cycle 25, and a Life-Changing Event (Part 1 of 2)

From the RAIN HamCast episode #56, 2021-XII-11 (used with permission):

When you were knee high to a grasshopper, did you undergo a game-changing experience that shaped your future career?

Here is text from the introduction:

Tomas Hood/NW7US did. Tomas has been a shortwave enthusiast since 1973. He was first licensed as a ham in 1990 at age 25.

In the mid 1990s Tomas launched the first civilian space weather propagation website, HFRadio.org, which later spawned SunSpotWatch.com. His website, NW7US has been up and running since June, 1999. Tomas has contributed to the Space Weather Propagation column in CQ magazine for over 20 years, and for The Spectrum Monitor magazine since 2014.

A product of the Pacific northwest, Tomas resides today in Fayetteville, OH. RAIN’s Hap Holly/KC9RP spoke with Tomas recently about Solar Cycle 25 and the game-changing afternoon Tomas experienced in 1973 at age 8 ( Read more about this, at his amateur radio and space weather blog: https://blog.NW7US.us/ ).

Here is the first part of the two-part interview:

Mentioned in the interview is Skylab:

From Wikipedia’s article on Skylab: Skylab was the first United States space station, launched by NASA, occupied for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974. It was operated by three separate three-astronaut crews: Skylab 2, Skylab 3, and Skylab 4. Major operations included an orbital workshop, a solar observatory, Earth observation, and hundreds of experiments.

Tomas was drawn into space weather as a life-long passion, by inspiration from Skylab, and from the hourly propagation bulletin from the radio station WWV.

WATCH FOR THE NEXT EPISODE, PART TWO

This video is only part one. The RAIN HamCast will conclude Hap’s conversation with Tomas in RAIN HamCast #57, scheduled for posting Christmas Day.

Hap Holly, of the infamous RAIN Report (RAIN = Radio Amateur Information Network), is now producing The RAIN HamCast. The results are both on https://therainreport.com and on the RAIN HamCast YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUbNkaUvX_lt5IiDkS9aS4g

KEEP ON HAMMING!

The RAIN Hamcast is produced and edited by Hap Holly/KC9RP; this biweekly podcast is copyright 1985-2021 RAIN, All rights reserved. RAIN programming is formatted for Amateur Radio transmission and is made available under a Creative Commons license; downloading, sharing, posting and transmission of this ham radio program via Amateur Radio in its entirety are encouraged. Your support and feedback are welcome on https://therainreport.com. Thanks for YouTube Technical Assistance from Tom Shimizu/N9JDI.

 

2nd X-class X-ray Flare in New Solar Cycle 25 – October 28, 2021

This imagery captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO; link) covers a busy period of activity in October, during which we witnessed an X1.0-class X-ray flare.

From late afternoon October 25 through mid-morning October 26, an active region on the left limb of the Sun flickered with a series of small flares and petal-like eruptions of solar material.

Meanwhile, the Sun was sporting more active regions at its lower center, directly facing Earth. On October 28, the biggest of these released a significant flare, which peaked at 15:35, 28 Oct 2021 UTC.

This X1.0 X-ray flare that erupted from Active Region 12887 (we typically drop the left-most digit when referring to an active region, so this is AR2887) is the second X-class flare of Solar Cycle 25, as of the time this video goes live.

The first X-class flare occurred on 3 July 2021 and measured X1.59. It, too, caused an HF radio blackout. These blackouts will occur more often as the cycle activity increases, because the higher sunspot activity leads to many more flares, and thus cause the geomagnetic storms as the typical CME is erupted out into space, possibly colliding with Earth’s magnetosphere.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. When intense enough, they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. Some of these disturbances to communications are called radio blackouts. They cause the lower layers of the ionosphere to become more ionized, which results in the absorption of shortwave radio frequency signals.

This flare on October 28 was classified as X1.0 in intensity. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, and so on. Flares that are classified X10 or stronger are considered unusually intense.

This was the second X-class flare of Solar Cycle 25, which began in December 2019. A new solar cycle comes roughly every 11 years. Over the course of each cycle, the Sun transitions from relatively calm to active and stormy, and then quiet again; at its peak, known as solar maximum, the Sun’s magnetic poles flip.

Two other eruptions blew off the Sun from this active region: an eruption of solar material called a coronal mass ejection and an invisible swarm of solar energetic particles. These are high-energy charged particles accelerated by solar eruptions.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

Thanks for liking and sharing!

73 de NW7US dit dit

Strongest X-Ray Solar Flare in New Cycle 25! A Class M4.4 Flare on 29 Nov 2020

At 13:11 UTC, 29-Nov-2020, the largest X-ray flare so far in new Sunspot Cycle 25 peaked at M4.4 (NOAA scale). The flare was not Earth-facing; the active sunspot region hasn’t rotated into Earth view.  If it had erupted while the sunspot group faced Earth, it likely would have measured as an X-class flare.  As this sunspot region rotates into view, we may see many more flares in the coming days.
Strongest X-Ray Solar Flare So Far in Cycle 25 - M4.4 on 29 Nov 2020

Here’s a look at the strongest X-ray flare so far in Cycle 25, and the strongest in three years. The flare measured as an M4.4-class Solar Flare, and it peaked at 13:11 UTC on 29 NOV 2020.

This is exciting! Why? Some scientists are speculating that a rapid start to Cycle 25 will result in one of the most active cycles in recent solar cycle history. Which could mean that we could work the world with a wet noodle, on the 10-Meter band!
With a rapid increase in sunspot activity as we ramp up in Sunspot Cycle 25, the solar flux (the 10.7-cm Radio Flux measurement) will be increasing. That means, generally, we will see better HF conditions on the frequencies above 7 MHz on through 30 MHz or higher. 
The bad news is that larger flares cause radio blackout events, because the ionospheric D-Layer absorption increases for the duration of an Earth-facing solar X-ray flare. During this M4.4 X-ray flare, we had a level R1 event, causing some shortwave blackout regions.

Thirty Minutes of Dazzle: The Sun in UHD 4K by SDO (NASA)

Take a front-seat view of the Sun in this 30-minute ultra-high definition movie in which NASA SDO gives us a stunning look at our nearest star.

This movie provides a 30-minute window to the Sun as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which measures the irradiance of the Sun that produces the ionosphere. SDO also measures the sources of that radiation and how they evolve.

SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation.

The distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

Charged particles are created in our atmosphere by the intense X-rays produced by a solar flare. The solar wind, a continuous stream of plasma (charged particles), leaves the Sun and fills the solar system with charged particles and magnetic field. There are times when the Sun also releases billions of tons of plasma in what are called coronal mass ejections. When these enormous clouds of material or bright flashes of X-rays hit the Earth they change the upper atmosphere. It is changes like these that make space weather interesting.

Sit back and enjoy this half-hour 4k video of our Star!  Then, share.  🙂

73 dit dit

 

Stunning Ultra-HD View; Sun Timelapse 2015 NASA/SDO

This video is ten minutes of coolness.

This cool time-lapse video shows the Sun (in ultra-high definition 3840×2160 – 4k on YouTube) during the entire year, 2015. The video captures the Sun in the 171-angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. Our naked, unaided eyes cannot see this, but this movie uses false-colorization (yellow/gold) so that we can watch in high definition.

The movie covers a time period of January 2, 2015 to January 28, 2016 at a cadence of one frame every hour, or 24 frames per day. This timelapse is repeated with narration by solar scientist Nicholeen Viall and contains close-ups and annotations. The 171-angstrom light highlights material around 600,000 Kelvin and shows features in the upper transition region and quiet corona of the sun.

The first half tells you a bit about the video and the Sun, and you can see the entire year 2015 rotate by.  The second half is narrated by a NASA scientist.  It is worth watching all ten minutes.  And, then, sharing!

The sun is always changing and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is always watching.

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO keeps a 24-hour eye on the entire disk of the sun, with a prime view of the graceful dance of solar material coursing through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. SDO’s sixth year in orbit was no exception. This video shows that entire sixth year–from Jan. 1, 2015 to Jan. 28, 2016 as one time-lapse sequence. Each frame represents 1 hour.

SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

A blending of an entire year, 2015, of the Sun as seen by NASA SDO at EUV 171 Angstroms

A blending of an entire year, 2015, of the Sun as seen by NASA SDO at EUV 171 Angstroms

Why This is Important

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

For us radio enthusiasts, the study of the Sun helps us understand the dynamics of radio signal propagation.  And, that aids us in communicating more effectively and skill.

Thanks for sharing, voting, and watching.  More information and live Sun content can be accessed 24/7 at http://SunSpotWatch.com

You can also get the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Self-study Course at http://SunSpotWatch.com/swc

 

Our Amazing Sun and HF Radio Signal Propagation

Space Weather. The Sun-Earth Connection. Ionospheric radio propagation. Solar storms. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Solar flares and radio blackouts. All of these topics are interrelated for the amateur radio operator, especially when the activity involves the shortwave, or high-frequency, radiowave spectrum.

Learning about space weather and radio signal propagation via the ionosphere aids you in gaining a competitive edge in radio DX contests. Want to forecast the radio propagation for the next weekend so you know whether or not you should attend to the Honey-do list, or declare a radio day?

In the last ten years, amazing technological advances have been made in heliophysics research and solar observation. These advances have catapulted the amateur radio hobbyist into a new era in which computer power and easy access to huge amounts of data assist in learning about, observing, and forecasting space weather and to gain an understanding of how space weather impacts shortwave radio propagation, aurora propagation, and so on.

I hope to start “blogging” here about space weather and the propagation of radio waves, as time allows. I hope this finds a place in your journey of exploring the Sun-Earth connection and the science of radio communication.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some pretty cool science. Even though the video material in this article are from 2010, they provide a view of our Sun with the stunning solar tsunami event:

On August 1, 2010, the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple plasma-filled filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more!

At approximately 0855 UTC on August 1, 2010, a C3.2 magnitude soft X-ray flare erupted from NOAA Active Sunspot Region 11092 (we typically shorten this by dropping the first digit: NOAA AR 1092).

At nearly the same time, a massive filament eruption occurred. Prior to the filament’s eruption, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) AIA instruments revealed an enormous plasma filament stretching across the sun’s northern hemisphere. When the solar shock wave triggered by the C3.2-class X-ray explosion plowed through this filament, it caused the filament to erupt, sending out a huge plasma cloud.

In this movie, taken by SDO AIA at several different Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) wavelengths such as the 304- and 171-Angstrom wavelengths, a cooler shock wave can be seen emerging from the origin of the X-ray flare and sweeping across the Sun’s northern hemisphere into the filament field. The impact of this shock wave may propelled the filament into space.

This movie seems to support this analysis: Despite the approximately 400,000 kilometer distance between the flare and the filament eruption, they appear to erupt together. How can this be? Most likely they’re connected by long-range magnetic fields (remember: we cannot see these magnetic field lines unless there is plasma riding these fields).

In the following video clip, taken by SDO AIA at the 304-Angstrom wavelength, a cooler shock wave can be seen emerging from the origin of the X-ray flare and sweeping across the sun’s northern hemisphere into the filament field. The impact of this shock wave propelled the filament into space. This is in black and white because we’re capturing the EUV at the 304-Angstrom wavelength, which we cannot see. SDO does add artificial color to these images, but the raw footage is in this non-colorized view.

The followling video shows this event in the 171-Angstrom wavelength, and highlights more of the flare event:

The following related video shows the “resulting” shock wave several days later. Note that this did NOT result in anything more than a bit of aurora seen by folks living in high-latitude areas (like Norway, for instance).

This fourth video sequence (of the five in the first video shown in this article) shows a simulation model of real-time passage of the solar wind. In this segment, the plasma cloud that was ejected from this solar tsunami event is seen in the data and simulation, passing by Earth and impacting the magnetosphere. This results in the disturbance of the geomagnetic field, triggering aurora and ionospheric depressions that degrade shortwave radio wave propagation.

At about 2/3rd of the way through, UTC time stamp 1651 UTC, the shock wave hits the magnetosphere.

This is a simulation derived from satellite data of the interaction between the solar wind, the earth’s magnetosphere, and earth’s ionosphere. This triggered aurora on August 4, 2010, as the geomagnetic field became stormy (Kp was at or above 5).

While this is an amazing event, a complex series of eruptions involving most of the visible surface of the sun occurred, ejecting plasma toward the Earth, the energy that was transferred by the plasma mass that was ejected by the two eruptions (first, the slower-moving coronal mass ejection originating in the C-class X-ray flare at sunspot region 1092, and, second, the faster-moving plasma ejection originating in the filament eruption) was “moderate.” This event, especially in relationship with the Earth through the Sun-Earth connection, was rather low in energy. It did not result in any news-worthy events on Earth–no laptops were fried, no power grids failed, and the geomagnetic activity level was only moderate, with limited degradation observed on the shortwave radio spectrum.

This “Solar Tsunami” is actually categorized as a “Moreton wave”, the chromospheric signature of a large-scale solar coronal shock wave. As can be seen in this video, they are generated by solar flares. They are named for American astronomer, Gail Moreton, an observer at the Lockheed Solar Observatory in Burbank who spotted them in 1959. He discovered them in time-lapse photography of the chromosphere in the light of the Balmer alpha transition.

Moreton waves propagate at a speed of 250 to 1500 km/s (kilometers per second). A solar scientist, Yutaka Uchida, has interpreted Moreton waves as MHD fast-mode shock waves propagating in the corona. He links them to type II radio bursts, which are radio-wave discharges created when coronal mass ejections accelerate shocks.

I will be posting more of these kinds of posts, some of them explaining the interaction between space weather and the propagation of radio signals.

For live space weather and radio propagation, visit http://SunSpotWatch.com/. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://YouTube.com/NW7US.

The fourth video segment is used by written permission, granted to NW7US by NICT. The movie is [email protected], Japan. The rest of the video is courtesy of SDO/AIA and NASA. Music is courtesy of YouTube, from their free-to-use music library. Video copyright, 2015, by Tomas Hood / NW7US. All rights reserved.


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