QST de W1AW
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 41 ARLP041
From Tad Cook, K7RA
Seattle, WA October 8, 2004
To all radio amateurs
SB PROP ARL ARLP041
ARLP041 Propagation de K7RA
More mail this week about 10-meters and using beacons to detect band openings, but first let's look at the numbers.
Average daily sunspot numbers rose this week from last, jumping over 17 points to 38.1. Average daily solar flux was about the same. Solar activity has been very low, and fortunately geomagnetic indices are also low as well. Don't expect a change over the next few days, but a slight increase in solar flux is predicted for October 15-16, when it may rise to around 105. Otherwise, until then expect low sunspot numbers, and solar flux around 90-95.
Geomagnetic activity should continue to be quiet, but there is a chance of some unsettled to active conditions around October 12-15. Currently the visible sun is nearly spotless, but helioseismic holography reveals a sunspot group on the sun's far side. The sun rotates relative to earth about every 27.5 days, so it will face us later this month.
Now that the third quarter of 2004 has passed we can review quarterly averages for sunspot numbers and solar flux.
From the third quarter of 2002 through the third quarter of 2004, the average daily sunspot numbers were 193.5, 152.7, 120.3, 107.3, 110.2, 99.2, 72.9, 71.3 and 69.3. The average daily solar flux for the same period was 178.1, 164.2, 134.3, 124.2, 120.8, 137.4, 111.1, 99.5 and 111. Yet more evidence of cycle 23's slide toward solar minimum, currently forecast to occur a little over two years from now.
Geoff, GM4ESD wrote with more comments about copying African beacon stations on 10-meters from Scotland. Geoff wrote, "I am not at all certain that the summertime propagation mode is 'classic' multi-hop F2 during the 1100-1400z slot. Unless there is sporadic E about the same time, none of the beacons at [an] estimated one hop F2 distance from here toward ZS6DN are heard. When there is sporadic E about, ZS6DN tends to be much weaker, if heard at all, regardless of the location of the E 'cloud'. Only in the evening does sporadic E appear to help. Very often during this 1100-1400z slot ZS6DN's signal has a slight watery sound, but not as severe as on a 6-metre transcontinental signal."
Geoff goes on to say, "I have never heard an echo. I would have thought that I am a bit too far north for direct Trans-Equatorial Propagation, as we understand it to be involved so frequently during this time of day. If there is a 'classic' F2 opening between South Africa and here, most times I hear the ZS1J beacon as well, or ZS1J without ZS6DN. ZS6DN is not appearing so often after the equinox, either at 1100-1400z or at 1600-1700z. I suspect the 'rules' of solar flux/sunspot numbers are taking over, and now he only appears if there is a 'classic' multi-hop F2 path open to him."
Junji Saito, JA7SSB sent an email pointing out a typo in last week's bulletin, where I wrote that the solar flux was expected to reach 200 by October 7. He guessed correctly when he said 100. (KK4TA noticed as well, and also guessed the valid number correctly). In fact, the three daily readings at the Penticton observatory in British Columbia for October 7 were a bit lower at 91.4, 93.8 and 94.9. Those readings are taken daily at 1700, 2000 and 2300z, but the local noon reading at 2000z is always the official solar flux for the day.
Junji had other comments, in addition to politely correcting the predicted solar flux number. He said this Autumn he experiences good daily 20 meter propagation to North America around 0200-0600z, and he uses both SSB and RTTY. I expect he gets great propagation to the West Coast.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, Japan is often loud, and depending on conditions, sometimes pileups of JA calls respond when calling CQ with a good signal toward that direction. A reminder of this was when Henry Platt, W3UI visited Seattle last week. The bed and breakfast he stayed at was only a few blocks from Dan Eskenazi, K7SS. Dan has a great shot to the Pacific from his house on a high spot in West Seattle, with a commanding view of Puget Sound. His back yard ends at a cliff which drops off toward the west, a quarter mile from salt water. Henry loves CW, and couldn't resist getting on the air. He was amazed at the multitude of JA signals and how many other Pacific stations he could work from Dan's station. Of course at home in Eastern Pennsylvania, Henry easily works Europe, but the path toward Japan is much further and polar as well. A polar path has the disadvantage of being poor for HF propagation when geomagnetic indices are high. Dan works Japan easily, but Europe is a polar path for him.
Thomas Giella, KN4LF wants to remind us of the propagation email reflector mentioned in this bulletin eight weeks ago. You can sign up at, http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/propagation.
Finally, Joe Pontek, K8JP in Indiana writes about working 6-meters from Central America in Belize. When he is there and signing V3, he often listens in the evening for South America. When he hears U.S. stations on backscatter, he calls them, but when they turn their beams toward him the signals are gone. He said this is particularly true with Florida stations. For an interesting web article on backscatter, see http://ecjones.org/backscatter.html.
If you would like to comment or have a tip, email the author at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information concerning propagation and an explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin see the ARRL Technical Information Service propagation page at, http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/propagation.html.
Sunspot numbers for September 30 through October 6 were 36, 37, 35, 39, 41, 40 and 39 with a mean of 38.1. 10.7 cm flux was 88.2, 88, 88, 89, 90.7, 90.8 and 92.1, with a mean of 89.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 4, 12, 15, 10, 5 and 5, with a mean of 7.9. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 2, 2, 8, 7, 8, 3 and 2, with a mean of 4.6.