July 17, 2024

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine

"Ring of Fire" eclipse

Ham Radio Amateurs Will Help NASA Study The Ionosphere During The “Ring Of Fire” Eclipse

Solar eclipses, while fun to gawp at and/or cower from in fear of the sun-eating god depending on what century you’re from, are incredibly useful for scientists.

During the 2024 total solar eclipse in North America, NASA will use the opportunity to photograph the Sun’s corona from a high altitude and view sunspots as the Moon passes across the face, blocking out competing light. If you can’t wait that long for some eclipse-based science, amateur scientists with ham radios are conducting an experiment on Saturday, October 14, 2023, during the Ring of Fire eclipse.

So why radios? Well, they’re a good way to look at the activity of the ionosphere. Between 80 and 643 kilometers (50-400 miles) above the Earth, particles in the Earth’s atmosphere are bombarded with Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) and X-ray solar radiation, ionizing them. The ionosphere grows and shrinks (on your side of the planet) depending on the time of day. At night, the layer reflects long-wave radio signals (known as “skywave” propagation) to a much greater degree than during the day, allowing the signal to be carried for hundreds of miles further than during the day. 

It’s something regulators have to take into account, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires long-wave radio broadcasters to lower their power at night “in recognition of the physical laws that govern AM radio propagation”, and shut down if they are unable to do so. 

Read more – IFLScience: