Ham Radio In the Year 2009

                                                                        Dick Zseltvay, KC4COP



                                                     Need to Contact Us? write the webmaster     




The purpose of this web site is to provide information and convenient links to topics on

amateur radio and space weather.  The relationship of these two areas of interest is a major

theme of the site.   


Search the www.zseltvay.com Website  




This Web Site is International in Scope.  A variety of  factors influence how comprehensive the international coverage is at any given time. The most notable factors that influence global reporting. Coverage of propagation on the Website may be influenced by 1). Current World Events; 2). The availability of information at any given time. In the global space weather community, stations reporting the maximum usable frequency (MUF) and critical frequencies are slowly increasing in number. 21 March 2009


The color ORANGE and orange identify  Headings

The color BLUE is used to identify a date and time ( most often it is used with data originating with the Web Site.).

The color GREEN is used to identify a comment, note, or editorial ( usually by the Webmaster ).

START OF ALL QUIET ALERT ....................... The SIDC - RWC
Belgium expects quiet Space Weather conditions for the next 48 hours or
until further notice. This implies that: * the solar X-ray output is
expected to remain below C-class level, * the K_p index is expected to
remain below 5, * the high-energy proton fluxes are expected to remain
below the event threshold.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Its Here
Solar Cycle 24 Arrived on 04 January 2008
All Links to graphic items are broken due to directory changes.........repairs have to be made one image at a time....the Webite is very large - the published elements alone are approximately 4.5 GB in size... it is possible that we will take most pages off the Wesite while repairs are being made...... 21 March 2009








"The Effects of Extreme Ball Lightning" final installment published on the website on 21 April 2009   





The Time,  according to your computer,  is :


UTC Time is


Local Time is

The Displayed  "Coordinated Universal Time" accessed by the  link below, is based on a large number of atomic clocks 
connected through a "grid".  It is a very accurate and precise time value.  The "Official UTC Time" 
listed on this web site  is so accurate that you can almost set your watch by it.

Official U.S. Time UTC with Gray Line                                    

id You know that :
Geomagnetic storm levels are determined by the estimated 3-hourly Planetary K-indices which are derived in real time from a 
network of western hemisphere ground-based magnetometers.


Credit Mixed Sources including  ISP, NOAA, U.S. Air Force, SIDC, U.S. Dept of Commerce,Self-Calculations-KC4COP



Solar Wind Speed and the Bz Component of the IMF

Below: 24-hour measurements of Solar Wind Speed, Bz, Dynamic Pressure, Kp-Index, Coronal Holes

Links to ACE Solar Wind -(24-hr Graph) and Real-Time Kp - Index



  Real- Time                        Real-Time                                                                                               Kp - Index 3-day Estimated Planetary K-index graph Data Courtesy US Air Force / SWPC composite

ACE Solar Wind -(24-hr Graph)             3-day Graphical Display

Image: NASA / SWPC composite

Solar Wind Data is updated by NOAA once a minute



Data Updated every 5-minutes by NOAA/SEC

Click to get values and an explanation


Coronal Holes - current for the current UTC Day


BELOW: Image of the solar surface. The dark area is a coronal hole


SOHO 28.4nmAutomatic update Fe XV 284 A, EIT image, NASA SOHO

This image is the last image transmitted to NASA from the SOHO Great Observatory. The date is the current UTC date.


This side is WEST ! ! !                                                                               



 NOTE: When viewed, features seen on the solar disk move from the LEFT (EAST) to the RIGHT (WEST)

                         Click on Icon to View Current Solar Map (SDIC)
ABOVE: Solar Map showing Active Regions (contain sunspots) EIT 284 Image. The current solar map is displayed
by clicking on the above icon or the link in the above line. The correct date and time is shown on the map for those wishing
map details. The solar map image can be cropped so that only the sunspots and the associated date appear in a frame. 
LEFT: Legend for solar map
 SIDC (World Data Center for Sunspots) ; Royal Observatory of Belgium                                 
SEC / NOAA Complete Solar Weather and Geomagnetic Condition Statement and 3-Day Forecast

Space Weather - In summary, Solar Activity and Geomagnetic Conditions that indicate favorable conditions exist for good high frequency radio wave propagation

Good HF operating conditions exist for a  location  when the A-Index is <  7 and the K-Index is < 3. Good Global conditions exist when the Ap-Index is < 7 and the Kp-Index is < 3

When the north-south component of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (Bz) is pointing southward (negative) Operating conditions are generally POOR


Multi-Bounce High Frequency Radio Wave Propagation  depends on sun spots to provide ionization of the ionosphere. In general, large numbers of sun spots equates with favorable conditions for high frequency DX and solid short and mid-distance hf contacts.


Major solar disturbances can cause conditions detrimental to DX when high speed solar wind streams intersect Earth's path resulting in the production of geomagnetic storms. Propagation favorable for DX (long distance) or solid local and mid-distance contacts (QSOs)  - requires a balance in ionizing radiation. Learning how different combinations of solar and geophysical factors effect propagation from one's own station can provide an interesting way to study hf propagation

Geomagnetic Storms: disturbances in the geomagnetic field caused by gusts in the solar wind that blows by Earth.
Solar Radiation Storms: elevated levels of radiation that occur when the numbers of energetic particles increase.
Radio Blackouts: disturbances of the ionosphere caused by X-ray emissions from the Sun.

Space Environment Center / NOAA



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Dick Zseltvay, KC4COP

Member of INAG - Ionosonde Network Advisory Group 


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Please refresh your browser to insure that you are seeing the latest information. Much of the data on the Website is frequently updated (i.e. minutes up to 3-hrs)   ←


QRV............  Are You Ready?

The Appearance of Sunspot 981 Marked the Beginning of Solar Cycle 24

Links to all graphic elements are broken..... each link will require individual attention to repair.... many hundreds of links are involved.... progress will be outlined in the note below

22 April 2009,  repair of links continues / Index to directly access individual pages is currently turned off

The Website contains displays with auto-updating data. These data streams do not require special plug-ins, add-ons, or proprietary Active X controls. Generally all modern browsers (such as IE 6 and 7 and FireFox 2 and 3) support the displays. There are some pages on the Website that contain interactive elements. These pages will require that up-to-date Java Virtual Machine (JVM) runtime code be installed on your computer. The Java code is required only for the operation of the interactive elements.

Test your Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for the correct Java runtime software. This test requires that you leave the Website and go directly to the Sun Microsystems test site. Updated Java runtime software may be downloaded without charge from the Sun Microsystems test page if it is needed. You will need to use your browser's "back arrow" or your browser's "tab system" to return to our website. Please do come back !  While the Sun Microsystems website is interesting, you will not learn a thing about HF propagation there.

Amateur radio is likely only second to the military in the frequency of acronym use. Website policy includes defining all acronyms the first they are used on each page located on the Website. This practice may be tedious for some of our readers but we feel that the policy helps many others understand the text that they are reading.  Our logs show that the Website is visited by readers from approximately 6 dozen countries each month. Obviously the logs can not reflect a reader's proficiency at untangling the meaning of the acronyms used in amateur radio and on the Website. Please excuse our compulsion to define even simple terms such as "RF" (radio frequency) if you are a ham that could write a book on every term used on our web pages.

What Does it Mean?

Released 17 May 2009;  1149 UTC

START OF ALL QUIET ALERT ....................... The SIDC - RWC
Belgium expects quiet Space Weather conditions for the next 48 hours or
until further notice. This implies that: * the solar X-ray output is
expected to remain below C-class level, * the K_p index is expected to
remain below 5, * the high-energy proton fluxes are expected to remain
below the event threshold.

A space weather bulletin seen by amateur radio operators monitoring solar weather reports is the bulletin reporting "245 MHz Bursts" or "245 MHz Noise Storms". What is the significance of these bulletins?

First, we should define the terms used in this space weather bulletin. The "245 MHz burst" is a solar radio signal monitored at the frequency of 245 MHz. The terms "solar activity" and "solar event" refer to solar proton events that follow the monitored solar radio signal by one to two days. 

Note: 245 MHz is a frequency very close to a wavelength (full wave) of 1m (the actual wavelength is 1.22m). Solar activity (solar proton events) seems to parrot the emission of solar radio wave burst at a wavelength of 1m. The proton event typically occurs one to two days after the solar radio burst. 

Why not try this conversion calculation yourself? To keep you from having to hunt for the equation, we have included the equation below. This is a good time to review scientific notation. As a word of caution, remember 245 is expressed in megahertz. 

An elegant summary of this phenomena, appears in the abstract of a paper, Evidence for a Strong Correlation of Solar Proton Events with Solar Radio Bursts, published in 2005, by Xiao-Cong Li andd Lian-Sheng Kang. The paper was published in the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100012. This abstractedly can be found on the Web at http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1009-9271/5/1/012

Equation to convert   frequency : wavelength

Equation: f * λ = c
f = frequency in Hertz (Hz = 1/sec)   (1 Hz = 1 cycle per second)
λ = wavelength in meters (m)
c = the speed of light = 3*108 m/sec



A paper on "The Effects of Extreme Ball Lightning" with a request from one of the paper's authors, J. Pace VanDevender, Sandia National Laboratories


Extreme Ball Lightning - article and request


Modification Made to Original Statements on the Included Article in this Series

Part of the Webmaster's original intent in publishing the complete article Extreme Ball Lightning, was to divide the article into three separate installments. The organization of the published article has been changed. The article has been separated into two installments - both of which have now been published on the Website. The VanDevender paper has now been published in its entirety beginning with the first installment and ending with the second.

Those that have already read the first installment wish to jump directly to the second part of every published paper may do so by following this link: Second Installment on Extreme Ball Lightning


The Request

Readers visiting and using this website have historically been very helpful to scientific researchers and friendly governmental agencies around the globe. Some years ago a few of the agencies that we now consider "friends" would barely give us the time of day. For the most part that has changed and changed dramatically. Here is another opportunity to get involved with an agency that heretofore amateur radio operators have had little contact.

A researcher from the Sandia National Laboratories is asking for your help. The payoff can be a considerable gain to all parties. The information being requested probably will not be too easy to obtain - it has proved difficult so far, but then again this is the first time that you will have an opportunity to be involved.

How familiar are you with the terms "mini black holes" or "ball lightning"? Likely you have heard of ball lightning and that is about it. They may be the same phenomena. At this time no one can prove any different. The idea of a black hole of any size or quality orbiting the Earth and even plowing into it seems exciting to your Webmaster and probably more than just a few of your also interested. "Ball lightning" is the subject of this request. Why are amateur radio operators being asked to get involved? Because this request is all about high-frequency RF - something that each of you has an interest in as well some knowledge.

The exact request is in the following paragraphs. Since coming up with a single source able to answer the request in one shot is unlikely, you webmaster suggests that data for relatively short periods of time may need to be pooled.

The following is a selection from one of the e-mails I received from Dr. Pace VanDevender, Sandia National Laboratories, on the subject requested. Please read it and see if you can be of any help.


......With respect to the Antarctica expedition, the low RF background in Antarctica allowed us to look for--and find--signals like those that I found with the FORTE satellite in 1997 that is qualitatively what I expect from mini black holes if they have not evaporated by quantum evaporation since they were formed at the beginning of time. The whole story is in the attached pdf document and shows:
1) the progression from our study of extreme ball lightning,
2) the weighing of such extreme ball lightning,
3) the inference that the weight and size imply a mini black hole at the core,
4) our theory of the configuration of matter around such a mini black hole--we call it the Gravitational Equivalent of an Atom or GEA for short,
5) the search for RF signals to test that inference,
6) my finding ~50 sequences in just one month with the FORTE satellite, and
7) the plan to build four ground stations to look for the signals and triangulate the data to plot the trajectory.

Unfortunately, the RF background of inhabited areas foiled our search. The data from Antarctica implies that the FORTE satellite data was real and not just an intermittent failure of a preamplifier and implies that it would be worthwhile building the four ground stations, which is the next task.

I am still interested in the satellite inventory from September 17 through November 30 of 1997 to compute the satellite paths and find one or more that might have been close to the FORTE satellite when it recorded the ~50 data sets. That would let me ascertain if the source of the signals could have been a man made satellite--and falsify the inference of RF from mini black holes. Anything you can suggest to find the October 1997 equivalent of the monthly Space-Track satellite catalog--but from that time--would be greatly appreciated. .....



The request, in summary:

What you are being asked to contribute: the 2-Line Orbital Elements (TLEs) for the FORTE satellite from 17 September 1997 through 30 November 1997. As mentioned earlier, data for that period may need to be pooled. Anyone having the full data set or fractions thereof may e-mail the information to me and I will forward it to the researcher.

Because some of you may be interested in the effects of "ball lightning", I am including a copy of the paper mentioned in Dr. VanDevender's e-mail outlining some of the effects on Earth's landscape that that this phenomenon might be responsible for.

The paper was sent to the Webmaster by one of its authors ( J. Pace VanDevender. VP Emeritus, Sandia National Laboratories. Albuquerque, NM 87185-0125 USA. ) and is published on the Website with his permission. Note: this document is copyrighted and should not be reproduced without permission from the original source. Other papers by Dr. VanDevender on the topic of "extreme ball lightning" can be located on the World Wide Web through most search engines.


The republished paper has been separated into two installments - both of which have now been published on the Website. The VanDevender paper has now been published in its entirety beginning with the first installment and ending with the second.

A brief discussion on the FORTE satellite


bullet A short discussion on the all quiet alert bulletin

There are many bulletins from space weather agencies available to various groups of investigators that give information on real-time space weather conditions. As we discussed in the past, there are between 20 and 50 agencies belonging to the World Data Center that have individual responsibilities for contributing space weather information to civilian agencies on the global level. One of those agencies, the "Solar Influences Data Analysis Center", is responsible for publishing a generalized space weather bulletin that summarizes solar and geophysical activity (geomagnetic data) that is commonly seen during prolonged periods of no sunspot activity (zero sunspots). This bulletin is called the "All Quiet Alert".

Investigators including hams that follow the many daily space weather bulletins have frequently seen the "all quiet alert bulletin" over the last several years that we have been celebrating "solar minimum" (. Years ago when this bulletin for started becoming frequently seen we received several inquiries asking its significance and the specific data that it referred to. This may be the time to once again comment on the all quiet alert bulletin and republish the specific space weather components included in it.

:Issued: 2009 Apr 11 1149 UTC
:Product: documentation at http://www.sidc.be/products/quieta
# From the SIDC (RWC-Belgium): "ALL QUIET" ALERT                     #
START OF ALL QUIET ALERT ....................... The SIDC - RWC
Belgium expects quiet Space Weather conditions for the next 48 hours or
until further notice. This implies that: * the solar X-ray output is
expected to remain below C-class level, * the K_p index is expected to
remain below 5, * the high-energy proton fluxes are expected to remain
below the event threshold.

The SIDC is the solar physics research department of the Royal Observatory of Belgium. Its operational activities include the World Data Center for the sunspot index and the Regional Warning Center Belgium for space weather forecasting.

(By the way, while we are well into a solar minimum, it is not a solar minimum belonging to solar cycle 23. We are now in solar cycle 24. Solar cycle 24 began on 4 January 2008. This is not the opinion of the webmaster, but space weather fact as disseminated by the World Data Center community. I have to admit that some members of the "community" occasionally forget that fact.)



October 2008 :  Important space weather news being released as we move deeper in to Solar Cycle 24 includes:

Solar physicists have announced that the solar wind is losing pressure, hitting a 50-year record low for the Space Age. This development has repercussions across the solar system. NASA Science News for September 23, 2008

The above is the headline from a newsletter sent out by NASA to a list of subscribers (which includes the Webmaster) recently. It was our intention to begin commenting on the possible ramifications of a long-term declining solar wind pressure quickly after NASA released its original statement (given above).

When NASA released its first statements on the declining solar wind pressure  we expected to see many rapid fire comments on the subject coming out of the United States' space agency. This has not happened. For us to jump the gun and start making comments before NASA does hardly seems appropriate to us. We will continue monitoring communications coming out of NASA on the subject. As further information is released by NASA, we will publish it on a page being developed titled The Solar Wind's 50 Year Decline in Pressure and advise our readers that the page is being updated.

Above and Right: The temperature and density of electrons in the solar wind have dropped since the mid-1990s. Image courtesy NASA


26 Oct 2008:  Next up for publication later this weekend late will be an article on an inventive system to study certain aspects of HF propagation.  The system is "AutoPR".  AutoPR is a propagation tool that has grown out of one of amateur radio's most popular sound card based digital mode.  The system is named the PSK Automatic Propagation Reporter (AutoPR).  We hope that you will check back with us on Sunday evening to read and learn more about AutoPR.

19 Aug 2008; 04:34 UTC:  Change in NCDXF/IARU Beacon Transmission Schedule.

If you want to check and see if the bands are open to the "Lands Down Under", (we include both Australia and New Zealand in that category), you'll need to depend on something other than the NCDXF/IARU Beacons for that information. For an undetermined time, beacons ZL6B, New Zealand, and VK6RBP, Australia, are out of commission. Beacon, LU4AA, Austria, remains off the air

Revised NCDXF/IARU Beacon schedule as of  27 September 2008.


Smoothed Sunspot (Ri) numbers have been posted for August, 2008. A total of 59 stations reported their data to the Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC) on 01 Sep 2008. The data reported by these stations is the source for August 2008's smoothed sunspot report. Please keep in mind that these are preliminary numbers. Final numbers may not be available before November or December 2008

The concept(s) involving smoothed sunspot numbers are among the most important information  required to understand all of the current propagation models.

The Solar Influences Data analysis Center (SIDC) releases a bulletin on the first day of a month for the preceding month's international smoothed sunspot numbers. Location of the data may be a little difficult if the bulletin is missed. For that reason, we will return to publishing that data on the Website so that it is easy to find any time during the month. The July data marks the second month of our return to publishing this report.

The table contains preliminary data. Final numbers come several months after the monthly bulletin is released. The data is listed as Ri,  short for "Provisional (temporary) International monthly mean Sunspot Number".

A very brief explanation of how the numbers are calculated is located at the "About Smoothed Sunspot Ri" bookmark on the Sunspot Number Ri page of the Website. This Website also publishes "intermediate" and "advanced" explanations of the calculations involved in determining the Ri number.

Published sunspot numbers (there are multiple ways that the sunspot number may be  reported-explanations available on this Website) are always calculated - not manually or machine counted.

We hope that publishing this data will be helpful.


CAPS (Communication Alert and Prediction System) - A program useful for better understanding the ionosphere.

 CAPS is an interactive program that permits travel through the different layers of the Ionosphere. The user is able to see what happens to his transmitted signal when he is using "sky-wave" propagation. The CAPS program can help build a better understanding of how reflection, refraction, absorption, etc. influence the radio signal as it is launched from Earth on a path that will take the signal into the Ionosphere and back to Earth.

Space weather alerts and reports can become more meaningful after one has flown or swam through the Ionosphere several times because terms become easily understood 3-D graphic representations. An example can be seen in a recent Space Weather Prediction Center's alert

"Alert: Electron 2MeV Integral Flux exceeded 1000pfu"

After reading the above alert, a ham can visually appreciate how this condition can effect his transmitted signal's path.

With the new tool, a ham will be able to play out the consequences of a specific event (such as in the above example). With the knowledge of the event's timing (from the report itself) our ham should be able to formulate an accurate HF propagation forecast. The tool will help the ham consider the event's effect on the forecast rather than have him just skip over the influence that the event may have on the propagation forecast.

Does this sound exciting? If it does not - then you are on the wrong website. Cost of the program? CAPS is free to individual hams.



It is expected that many hams that are interested in studying HF propagation would like to know how to locate and identify beacons established on the amateur bands. The Northern California DX Foundation, Inc., maintains 18-beacons world wide on the ham DX bands as an aid to propagation now-casting.


Other organizations and some individuals have established beacons as well. We find it difficult to provide accurate listings of beacons outside of the ones operated by the Northern California DX Foundation. Nevertheless, a web page is published that lists some of beacons that have been - and may continue to be operational. The Beacon List International page contains information on these devices. Please help us keep this listing current.


Efforts are being made to use location marking beacons as propagation aids. This is a slow process as our inquiries often go unanswered. Perhaps our motives are viewed as suspect. Hopefully information will be more forthcoming at some point in time after we have been investigated enough to quell suspicions. In the meantime, a number of fixed commercial stations operating in the HF bands are being used as indicators for propagation. The frequencies used by some of these stations fall into the amateur radio 40-meter band. Our current list goes as high as 15 MHz



Many of the central themes of this Website revolve around the ionosphere - its definition and composition. Amateur radio operators can turn in many directions and sample just about any aspect of radio wave communication we choose. Most hams using the high frequency (HF) amateur bands do so looking to communicate with foreign stations (DX) or stations distant to their own QTH. On 80-meters a long distance QSO (contact) may cross several states; on 40-meters we expect to be able to cross countries and on 20-meters, 15-meters and 10-meters we expect to cross datelines. The ionosphere's refraction and reflection of our HF radio waves and subsequent reflections off of Earth's surfaces of returning HF waves let's us bounce our way around the globe.

Information on agencies that report ionospheric data helpful to hams wishing to work DX is usually limited to only a few of the many agencies and organizations actually in operation. Most hams interested in DX are familiar with NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center and the Australian's IPS Radio and Space Services agencies. Just about any information useful for propagation nowcasting and forecasting is available from these sources. We try to build on the "just about" qualification by supplying our readers with information on numerous other sources that are rich in helpful information and friendly to the amateur radio community. Dozens of articles on these other sources of information have appeared on the pages of the Website. We will continue to publicize organizations that supply data helpful to hams interested in high frequency radio wave propagation. Once such organization is the National Geophysical Data Center.


The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), a division of NOAA, is one of several agencies studying the ionosphere via Vertical Incidence Soundings (Ionograms). Much of the work at NGDC involving ionograms comes from the Ionospheric Physics Group (of NGDC). It operates the Ionosphere portion of the World Data Center for Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Boulder, Colorado.


The NOAA Space Environment Center, NOAA National Geodetic Survey, and NOAA National Geophysical Data Center are cooperating in an effort to disseminate ionospheric data. Unfortunately a very large number of WWW links these agencies post concerning ionospheric data achieves and near real-time data sources are dead-ends at this time. Data achieves may consist of pictures graphs ionograms, etc. The traditional reports and data sources are mostly functional though URLs change and the original URLs are eventually turned off.


Other Duties and Responsibilities:

"NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) provides scientific stewardship, products, and services for geophysical data from the Sun to the Earth and Earth's sea floor and solid earth environment, including Earth observations from space."


Ionograms are mentioned in a number of articles on the Website. An introductory article is included titled "Ionospheric Sounding - A quick look at an area in transit".

A second article details the determination of the critical frequencies including  foF2, foF1, and foE.

The article discusses the mechanics used in the determination of parameters such as virtual heights including h'F, and h'F2.

The ionogram in this article is framed in an historical prospective showing the flow of propagation studies starting with early sun spot counting methods and progresses through the use of  today's ionosonde.

Several pages on Vertical Incidence Soundings are included in the Site's search engine index. Unfortunately (our opinion), most Website pages that include material on ionograms are not indexed at this time.


This mini-article features the National Geophysical Data Center. It is one in a series of mini-articles on Agencies and organizations that supply amateur radio operators with the data needed for us to do our own propagation studies and forecasts. No article, mini- or otherwise that mentions Vertical Incidence Sounding is complete unless it mentions the Australian IPS Radio and Space Services agency. We would still be discussing dinosaurs when we talk about ionograms without the IPS's contributions, as a governmental agency and through the personal contributions of its personnel.


The Webmaster is a member of INAG - Ionosonde Network Advisory Group. Readers with an interest in and knowledge of ionograms are invited to join our group. Papers are frequently solicited. INAG is supported by IPS Radio and Space Services.

12 Mar 2008; 04:55 UTC: Mention was made yesterday of the NASA Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite. ACE is a NASA Explorer mission spacecraft. The "Explorer mission" makes it all NASA.

ACE's location at the Lagrangian Point L1 in space and the science instrumentation it carries says "this space craft is unique to NASA". Yet, this space craft is frequently misidentified as a being a NOAA satellite.

The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), a division of NOAA's National Weather Bureau, seems to be is the primary source for the dissemination of the multiple data feeds originating from the satellite. The attractive graphical data displays seen on most space weather oriented website originate with NOAA. Often these displays on websites fail to mention NASA. The fact that NOAA is the author of the Integrated Service Change Plan. for the discontinuation of the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite's services and data adds to the confusion over the ownership of ACE.

ACE was launched in August of 1997. ACE Real Time Solar Wind (RTSW) data has been made available to the public by NOAA through cooperation with the ACE project since 1998.

The ACE Science Center serves as the interface between project scientists and the Flight Operations Team.

March 16 2008; 03:35 UTC: The Ace Termination of Services page has been returned to the Website navigation structure. There is a section on the page, Why Will ACE Not Be Replaced ? 

Webmaster's Note: That should be of interest to amateur radio operators. If you are a ham, please read this section. It is important.


11 Mar 2008; 05:59 UTC: Reasons for Poor HF Conditions during the previous 72-hour period.

Any person, ham through AM broadcast band listener, knows that propagation from 30 MHz down has been poor for much of the past week. In the KC4COP ham shack beacons throughout this frequency range are monitored almost constantly. The monitor logs are tied to a UTC clock so that propagation conditions, evidenced by received beacon activity, can be closely correlated with solar and geophysical conditions. The working definition for "closely" in the shack falls into the following parameters and ranges:

The most critical parameter is "Time". Identification of many of the beacons depends on matching a received signal with an accurate clock. A clock set to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is constantly regulated by a series of 5 to 10 precise time servers (based on atomic clocks) having Internet delay times of 30-60 ms. Approximately 30 time servers are tested every six hours. Five to ten servers with Internet delay times of less than 50 ms are selected. This smaller group is tested every 30 to 60 minutes during the times being closely studied. This is the best way to be sure of a beacon's identity. All of the beacons operating in the amateur radio bands transmit on closely timed schedules.

"Universal Time" may be the most complex subject in all of the physical sciences. The Webmaster has made a study of the subject for the past 48 years and he does not feel competent to discus the topic in anything other than general terms. That being the case, a working definition of universal time is given in the glossary. The physics referenced in the definition may be simplistic but the definition should be understood by all.

There are a number of parameters that reflect solar and geomagnetic conditions. Bulletins, alerts, warning, and predictions from NOAA and other space weather agencies can be used in the selection of the parameters to study. Charts and graphs giving real-time data are updated every minute. A one stop shopping place for real-time data is published by Space Weather Prediction Center on the World Wide Web. Real-time data from NASA's ACE satellite is also available on the Web.

Split second timing is necessary for propagation beacon identification. It is not necessary for the collection of solar and geomagnetic data. But these conditions can change rapidly. The source of the data is known. The source may be a simple as identifying data originating with Earth's Sun and processed through the NASA / ACE satellite. Contamination from other objects beyond the Sun can be ignored at our present level of sophistication in understanding HF propagation. Studying real-time data being updated by the minute can be exciting during times of rapid changes in propagation. It can get tedious during times when one minute's data looks pretty much the same as all of the surrounding minutes. Data such as the geophysical measurement, Kp-Index, that is determined every 3-hours can make for an interesting study during those times.

How does the above help explain propagation in the HF bands? Looking back over various time periods we can get a good picture of that. For example, let's take a look at the SIDC Weekly Bulletin on Solar and Geomagnetic Activity. A portion of the bulletin is published below. The complete bulletin is available from the SIDC.

:Issued: 2008 Mar 10 1607 UTC
:Product: documentation at http://www.sidc.be/products/bul
# SIDC Weekly bulletin on Solar and Geomagnetic activity             #
WEEK 375 from 2008 Mar 03 

Only one small sunspot group was observed this week.
Solar activity thus remained very low during the entire week.
The X-ray flux remained below A1 level and the 10.7cm flux
was close to its lowest possible value, at 68 sfu.
A large recurrent coronal hole in the Southern hemisphere
rotated in a geoeffective position by the end of the week.

The week started with a decaying fast solar wind stream.
The geomagnetic field was temporarily unsettled early on
March 3. Then, it remained quiet until March 8. On that date,
the Earth entered a recurrent solar wind stream. The solar
wind speed then rose stepwise to a maximum of 650 km/s on
March 9. This induced active to minor storm conditions on
March 9. This solar wind disturbance will probably cause
unsettled to active geomagnetic conditions during the first
two days of next week.

15 Mar 2008: The problem with the server continues. Many portions of the Website are inaccessible for updating. This includes the Website's various indexes, archived pages, and certain links. The problem has continued since early in the last week of February. Frustration? The word comes no where close to describing the situation. A number of misspelled words that can not be corrected are glaring at all and I can't correct them!


What are the implications concerning the data sets published as automatic updates? The data coming from NOAA and NASA has not been interrupted.


When problems of this nature occur some data on the Website continues to be updated without any interruption of service. Automatic data feeds from NOAA, NASA, and several other selected space weather agencies continues without  interruption. Data from several satellites, including ACE and SOHO, continues to be updated on the published schedule. Automatic data feeds and reports from space weather satellites and agencies are put on and are taken off line from time to time. Data that is automatically updated is accompanied by a comment stating that fact and a long with the update schedule. These updates are made using pathways different from the mechanical update pathway originating from our "on-the-ground" station. The server maintains continuous contact with the automatic services.


Correspondence between agencies and the Webmaster and many reports take manual routes. We hope to change some of the daily reports from manual update to automatic status. The number of scheduled space weather reports and the ease of their availability has grown considerably over the past several years. It is for these and other reasons that we have ceased to update this material. This policy will continue at least for the time being.


Solar Cycle 24 began on 04 January 2008. Immediately below are several facts on the beginning Solar Cycle 24 and how the date of 04 January 2008 was chosen to mark the start of the new solar cycle. Additional material on this event is located in our short article titled  "Solar Cycle 24 a new beginning"

Solar Cycle 24 a new beginning is a continuation of the article posted below (Solar Cycle 24 Begins!) . These articles explain the measurable changes that must take place to declare an end to the state of solar minimum of one solar cycle and the beginning of the next 11-year solar cycle.

The terms used in the article are defined in simple but correct terms. Amateur radio operators and short wave listeners have a real need to understand the fundamentals of solar activity if they wish to get the most from their radios. Knowledge of the 11-year solar cycle is a good place to start. In this article we describe the start of the Cycle.

If you think that solar cycles are strictly delineated by a change in the smooth sun spot number, it may be a good idea for you to review the information in this article.


What marks the beginning of a new solar cycle? Is there a physical phenomena - a measurable event - or is a new cycle marked by graphs that indicate an overall increase in solar activity?

The answer:

Working Definition: Using the Sun's grid of latitude and longitude as the reference point, a new solar cycle begins with a high-latitude, reversed polarity sunspot.

The Occurrence: A solar region appeared on 11 December 2007, that fulfilled several of these requirements. On the 11th, a magnetically reversed region appeared at 24 degrees N. The 12 December 2007, Report of Solar-Geophysical Activity issued jointly by the Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force contained the statement:

A northern plage region with reverse polarity characteristics,
according to GONG magnetograms, is the only other solar feature of

credit: Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity
SDF Number 346 Issued at 2200Z on 12 Dec 2007

The magnetically reversed region fulfilled several of the criteria for the beginning point of Solar Cycle 24? The missing element was that the region was not a sunspot.

On 04 January 2008, all of the requirements for the start of Solar Cycle 24 were fulfilled with Sunspot 981's appearance on the solar surface.

Article continued with "Solar Cycle 24 a new beginning"


21 Dec 2007; 20:28 UTC: This year's Geminid meteor shower provided great opportunity for meteor scatter propagation communications.

Mad, not just angry-but mad, spitting mad. A few of the words and phrases that you would have heard had you been standing in the webmasters ham shack just minutes ago. Once again a great meteor shower has come and gone. And once again your Webmaster missed it. What's the fuss? The webmaster, and possibly you, missed the Geminid Meteor Shower. This year, meteors in excess of a 140 per hour brightened the sky. In addition to the high meteor rate, a number of fireballs composed the December 14 through 15, 2007, Geminid meteor shower. (rate quoted spaceweather.com  - )

Amateur radio operators can observe and take advantage of meteor showers in ways other than just watching dust and other small particles catch fire as they fall through the Earth's atmosphere. In addition to visually tracking small meteors, hams can bounce radio waves off of the ionized gas trails the vaporizing particles leave behind them.

Radio waves, particularly VHF radio waves, can bounce off of the ionized gas trails that burning particles create as they descend from a comet's orbital and fall through the ionosphere. Normally most transmitted VHF radio waves traveling in a direction away from Earth are either absorbed by various layers in the ionosphere, or they continued their travel on out into space. Should a radio wave intersect a gas trail, it may be reflected by the ionized materials back toward Earth. The reflected wave may be received by stations much farther in distance from the transmitting source than normal propagation (basically line-of-sight) would permit. This type of propagation is commonly called "meteor scatter propagation". The time span of contact through meteor scatter is short - often just a few seconds.

If you're disappointed in missing the Geminid shower, please pay particular attention to the next article. You're getting a second chance.

Take a look at some still images and brief movies of falling Gemini meteors.         WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Movies include the explosions of two fireballs


21 Dec 2007; 17:15 UTC: 1980 Then 1994 is 2007 Next? Out of the sky - the direction of "Ursa Minor", to be exact comes the recurring Ursids Meteor Shower. The meteor shower is expected to peak between the hours of 21:00 and 22:00 UTC, 22 December 2007. The Ursids in 1980 and 1994 were exciting showers with shooting stars appearing in bursts.  www.spaceweather.com

This annual shower can be light (a few shooting stars per hour) or can come in as a burst. Some meteor shower forecasters, including astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute, predict a heavier than usual shower for this December 22. Actually, most of the astronomers are using the words "possible" or "maybe" before saying the phrase "heavier than usual" - but a heavy shower is likely enough that most or our readers in the Western Hemisphere will want to look outside.

Jenniskens and colleagues, predict that the Ursids shower will peak on 22 December 2007, between between 21:00 and 22:00 UTC. The eastern part, and much of the central part of the United States will have darkness at the time. Viewers with clear skies will have to contend with a bright moon.

Anticipating the question, "why should we care about the Ursids shower - it will be raining", the Webmaster has prepared an answer. Rain, cloud cover and bright daylight ruin visual observations of meteor showers from the ground. Radio waves at many frequencies can penetrate the daylight, rain and clouds. So even with rain, amateur radio operators can still enjoy meteor showers by using Meteor Scatter propagation. The same is true for hams that live in areas still having daylight. All hams living in areas included in the meteor fall zone, even those still having daylight conditions can  enjoy meteor scatter propagation.


24 Dec 2007; 02:30 UTC: An estimate made on 18 December 2007, by students at the U.S. Naval Academy puts the re-entry of the ANDE satellite on 26 December 2007. A website covering the "final-days" of amateur radio activity surrounding the satellite's re-entry has been established by the Academy midshipmen.

ANDE (Atmospheric Neutral Drag Experiment) is a multi-purpose satellite containing student experiments designed by Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. The satellite was launched into orbit, 21 December 2006, during the flight of U.S. Space Shuttle Mission STS-116.   

Current Two Line orbital Elements for ANDE satellite             
Catalog Number Common Name International Designator Country (Key) Launch Date Launch Site (Key) Decay Date Period Incl. Apogee Perigee
December 20

"ANDE is getting warmer and warmer (now 35C). Tomorrow it's ANDE's birthday - one year in space."
"[Mike, DK3WN]"

29664 ANDE MAA SPHERE 1 2006-055F US 2006-12-10 AFETR   88.38 51.62 196 192 0.3373 Last Elset
.....Orbital Elemments Were Updated 24 Dec 2007 at 02:30 UTC.......courtesy USAF Space-Track.....
1 29664U 06055F   07356.91329490 +.01718128 +12274-4 +21513-3 0 07464
2 29664 051.6121 162.8370 0004479 312.1953 047.8551 16.35249221058402
Orbital Elements Updated 24 December 2007........KC4COP.....
2-Line Orbital Elements 
courtesy U.S.A.F. Space-Track

Unamplified WiFi distance record set at 125 miles / 31 July 2005
World record 5GHz WiFi connection spans 189 miles / 27 Aug 2007
Venezuelans set new WiFi distance record: 237 / 19 Jun 2007

Considering the fact that the folks mentioned in articles published on-line by Engadget are not hams - apparently the question can best answered: Who knows? - But let's find out!


And, so the challenge goes out from us to you. How far can the distance be? Figure in "line-of-sight, altitude to increase the line-of-sight to as far as .................., atmospheric absorption, etc., etc., etc. may be even gravity becomes a factor.... How far can one go?


Our readers could be up for the challenge. Let's develop "T-shirts" and start trying to determine how far the ultimate distance might be. Calculations backed with reasonable explanations as well as empirical data is welcome. AC powered transmitters and antenna connections should not hamper the spirit. Let us open the field to 5-watt HT (hand held transceivers).


We published an article on wireless computer keyboards and mice on 05 December 2007. Toward the end of the article we mentioned an article in the web publication Engadget where several teams vied for distance championships using largely undisclosed WiFi equipment. The reference for the WiFi distance contenders has been located.



17 Dec 2007; 02:26 UTC: For those that followed through on the topic of the "Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse" mentioned in the space weather warning below: The Aftermath was

Space Weather Message Code: WARK05
Serial Number: 618
Issue Time: 2007 Dec 17 0919 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 5 expected
Valid From: 2007 Dec 17 0920 UTC
Valid To: 2007 Dec 17 1600 UTC
Warning Condition: Persistence
NOAA Scale: G1 - Minor

NOTE: K-Index of 5 on the NOAA Scale is a G1 minor) geomagnetic storm. If the (preliminary) estimated Kp- Index reached 5, The Sudden Geomagnetic Impulse (SI) would have become a Sudden Commencement (SC) of Storm, and it would indicate a BzS

The terms used in the above are defined and explained beginning with Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse in the glossary

17 Dec 2007; 03:45 UTC: Space Weather Message Code: WARSUD
Serial Number: 65
Issue Time: 2007 Dec 17 0229 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse expected
Valid From: 2007 Dec 17 0330 UTC
Valid To: 2007 Dec 17 0400 UTC
IP Shock Passage Observed: 2007 Dec 17 0227 UTC

(See: Sudden Impulse with associated relevant links for additional information)

Other sources of information on the Bz parameter include How Does Bz Fit Into Propagation Forecasts? And The Role of Bz In Medium and Long Range Propagation Forecasts on Bz Conjecture.  

Important Note: These two references are "FAQ" (frequently asked question). They are based on personal observations - that of the Webmaster and others in acquaintance.

Statements in the articles should be considered as they were intended:  personal opinions included on the Website to encourage others to develop their own observations as they explorer the current methods used in propagation forecasting.

The art of forecasting solar weather and radio wave propagation is complex. And yet, these arts are in their infancy. There are points that have close to complete agreement of the parishioners in the field. Also there a number of points that fall short universal agreement. The art of forecasting solar weather lags significantly behind the current state of conventional weather forecasting.

Opinions on the pages referenced above may not reflect the opinions of others more experienced than the Webmaster in the field. The number of those more experienced is considerable. We try to provide links to those sources when their identities are known to us.

As usual, readers are encouraged to submit their comments.

10 Dec 2007; 06:20 UTC:   Interesting amateur radio communications experiments to end soon. Life span of carrier satellite estimated to end 24 December 2007.  ANDE (Atmospheric Neutral Drag Experiment) is a multi-purpose satellite containing student experiments designed by Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. The satellite was launched into orbit, 21 December 2006, during the flight of U.S. Space Shuttle Mission STS-116.

An interesting experiment incorporating student projects by hams at the U.S. Naval Academy. One of the interesting aspects of the satellite is its antenna - or lack one. The satellite's on-board packet transceivers communicate with hams without benefit of an external antenna. The satellite's primary science mission involves studying its orbit decay. Because an external antenna would add to the satellite's drag, students at the Academy needed to come up with an antenna that did not stick out from the satellite's body. The solution turned out to be....well, they cut the satellite into two half's and made the satellite's body a 2-meter dipole antenna with a 1.2:1 SWR. Saying much more about the student's work would take more than just several pages on this Website. The students have more than one website covering the whole operation. If there is a single comprehensive page summarizing the project, we have not found it. This is not too surprising since like the project itself, many hands at the Academy have added to the explanations involving the operations of this very well done project.

Photo Above Left: ANDE/RAFT CONJUNCTIONS: PACKET Transceivers aboard sister satellites jointly communicate with hams approximately four months after the satellites were launched into orbit. Credit U.S. Naval Academy Satellite Lab

"What makes this design unique is the absence of any external antennas as required by the minimum drag needs of the science experiment. We solved this by cutting the sphere in half so that we can use it as a dipole antenna across the two halves." ....So begins the communications portion of the ANDE satellite's mission as spoken by Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

With ANDE's orbital decay reaching end stage, satellite communications activities can be expected to increase and use up every last watt, volt and amp stored in the satellite's internal batteries.

Links to a few of the web pages dedicated to the communications operations of the ANDE satellite include:

Final days of the Satellite's operation. This page contains the activities planned by the Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. Includes CONTEST. 

Picture of the student projects aboard ANDE

Operation of ANDE in the Amateur Satellite Service.

09 Dec 2007; 03:58 UTC: Another Factor to Consider In Propagation Forecasting? X-Ray Gas Jets may effect ionoized components of Earth's Ionosphere to a degree worthy of being considered in comprehensive propagation modeling. The following material was taken from a 06 December 2007 article in "Science@NASA". The article was authored by Dr. Tony Phillips. "Science@NASA" is a web journal published daily.

The existence of Solar "X-Ray Gas Jets" has apparently been a known phenomena since the 1970s. According to a "06 December 2007, article in "Science@NASA" the X-Ray intensive Solar "jets", while known, received little study until November 2006.

The existence of streams of X-Ray laden material erupting from the Sun's surface was noted by observers using an early model X-ray telescope that was part of Skylab's instrumentation. During each decade since their first discovery, X-Ray intensive eruptions have been documented by a succession of newer and increasingly X-Ray sensitive instruments. The "Science@NASA" article documents the discovery and the three decades long indifference they have received. In November of last year the "jets" were documented by instrumentation aboard the Hinode spacecraft. Their appearance was noted during a calibration procedure involving an X-Ray sensitive telescope being focused on a coronal hole.

Photo above (credit): A still frame taken from a movie made through instrumentation aboard the Hinode space craft on 10 January 2007. Quicktime movies ranging from 2.4 MB through 24 MB may be downloaded from this link to NASA (direct download from NASA). Please download the movies from one of the several NASA web sites linked in this article - not zseltvay.com. The movies are available through all of the NASA links. The Webmaster bares the expense of bandwidth used for all downloads from his site.

Coronal holes appear as dark areas on the solar surface when viewed at a number of spectral wave lengths. Coronal holes and the high speed solar wind streams that emanate from them have significant effects on radio wave propagation at all frequencies.

According to article interviewee Jonathan Cirtain of the Marshall Space Flight Center, materials composing X-Ray Jets may account for over 10% of the mass of the solar wind. Even so, Cirtain went on to say that the jets are not limited to the solar areas making up coronal holes but that they are found over the entire solar surface.

As propagation forecasters, we equate high speed solar wind streams with the presence and movements of coronal holes.

The Hinode spacecraft is a joint venture involving Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NASA, Great Britain, and the European Space Agency (ESA). Dr. Jonathan Cirtain is located at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (a short distance down the road from the Webmaster).

Had the jets escaped the eye of Dr Tony Phillips, Production Editor of "Science@NASA", they may not have as easily gotten the attention of amateur radio operators. As it happens to be, Hams may be the among the first investigators to realize the importance of X-Ray Jets to radio wave propagation.

"Science@NASA" and amateur radio : a long story for a later time. In years gone by, a daily meteor count obtained from an amateur radio station was published on the "spaceweather.com" web page. Dr. Phillips is the author of both of these daily publications

The above information concerning Solar "X-Ray Jets" came from an article titled "The Sun is Bristling with X-Ray Jets" published in the web journal "SCIENCE@NASA". The article was published on the World Wide Web on 06 December 2007. The article's author is Dr. Tony Phillips. Dr. Phillips is the Production Editor of SCIENCE@NASA. He also is the Editor of spaceweather.com. Science@NASA is published daily - as is the web journal "spaceweather.com" (www.spaceweather.com).



05 Dec 2007; 00:34 UTC: Is your computer keyboard or mouse sending CQ?

An article appearing in some of the security journals has stirred up concern over the use of computer keyboards and computer mice in office settings. The concern might spill over into your ham shack and mine. Some of these devices operate at 27 MHz (not GHz). The transmitters and receivers are poorly constructed and signals generated by the radios in the computer peripheral devices are easily intercepted.


Hams might see these devices as a source of interference to either their ham gear or their ham gear might interfere with wireless devices being used on a ham's computer. Will there be an interference problem? It does not appear that the issue has been studied. If a ham's 28 MHz or 29 MHz signals cause interference to computer equipment with poor selectivity in the equipment radios - how far reaching will the interference be?


The articles referred to above were written for readers interested in office and computer security. From a security standpoint, the 1-bit encryption codes being used in some of the 27 MHz radio has been broken in as few as 20 to 50 key strokes. Interference, security issues, and equipment performance might indicate a bad situation for hams all around.


Two days ago a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse looked like they could be attractive additions to the station's computer. After finding out that Microsoft and other manufactures are building wireless computer equipment designed to operate at 27 MHz the attractiveness of wireless computer peripherals for one amateur radio operator quickly diminished.

None of the comments on these 27 MHz radios found by the Webmaster appeared to be written by amateur radio operators. Interference that the wireless equipment might cause to amateur equipment is apparently not known. How susceptible these 27 MHz keyboards and mice are to 10-meter amateur transmission likewise is not known.

Observing one cut-away keyboard with its transmitter exposed showed the radio's shielding consisted of the plastic case making up the keyboard proper. Leak? You betya! Don't think that the rf emitted by wireless computer equipment is too weak to to matter. How about an un- amplified WiFi signal copied over a 125 mile distance using a directional antenna? Good propagation? Yes, but not the best. The 250 mile range comes tomorrow. (signals in these cases not believed to be 27 MHz)

08 Dec 2007: Unable to find my link to a 250 mile record set in China. Earlier in the week I had several links to distance records set after the above took place. It was too early in the am to write about them while they were close at hand. I seem to remember that one link contained some technical details. With a little investigation and editing for the ham population, a summary of these articles would play well in QST and the like. May be someone can pick up on this. Two bad falls hitting my head and neck during the last two days. I should have broken my neck again both times. A true miracle I survived but I have no idea where I put the links. I will continue looking for them. KC4COP

The links to articles dealing with the 27 MHz computer equipment are probably not well known to hams. For that reason, we will provide readers interested in learning more about these radios several links to serve as jumping off places.

Comments on the operation of this equipment is welcomed here at the Website.



Reference NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer Satellite (ACE).

How Long will the Sun Bather Remain Aloft?  Not forever. NASA claims that the ACE Satellite has enough fuel aboard to keep it stationed at its L1 point until 2019. Now, NOAA has added its predictions concerning the final operation of ACE Satellite services.

In April 2006, the webmaster received an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concerning the condition of the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) Satellite. The Satellite's condition was divided into a description of the anticipated instrument failure and space craft failure.  News concerning the termination of ACE Satellite services was a headline event on this website during the early months of 2006.

The ACE Satellite is still functioning. Data from the Satellite is posted on this website in near real-time. Data flow is Satellite > NASA  > direct connection to this Website. Data flowing along this path is updated on the Website every 5-minutes. Other data is routed through the Space Weather Prediction Center - a module of NOAA.

The Website contains a number of articles that reference the ACE Satellite (Advanced Composition Explorer Satellite) and its cargo of instruments. The Satellite is one of the principle instruments in the Space Weather Industry and it remains a primary source of data relating to solar wind. Its unique orbit stations the Satellite at an excellent point in space to serve as a sentry. In this role , ACE alerts scientists on Earth of the occurrence of solar events that might pose a danger to life and property.

Unique Orbit of the ACE Satellite:

The ACE Satellite is positioned at a Lagrangian L1 point . This places ACE about 1.5 million km from Earth and 148.5 million km from the Sun. The space craft is approximately 1/100 of the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

Further Information Concerning the ACE Satellite

12 Nov 2007; 02:54 UTC: Much of the near real-time solar data used on this, and most other websites devoted to space weather, comes from NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer Satellite (ACE). Solar Wind has been the subject of several recent posts to the Website. The role of solar wind and the geomagnetic changes caused by its variations on high frequency radio wave propagation is discussed throughout the Website. The source of many of the measurements of solar wind behavior needs to be mentioned if one is to understand the meanings of real-time and near real-time descriptors of solar data. Enter, NASA's  Advanced Composition Explorer - the ACE Satellite

The ACE Satellite serves as Earth's sentry for Solar generated particles and magnetic waves. It is the primary source for the measurement of solar wind speed.

The ACE Satellite is positioned at a Lagrangian L1 point . This places ACE about 1.5 million km from Earth and 148.5 million km from the Sun. The satellite travels in an elliptical orbit in gravitational equilibrium between the Sun and Earth. This special orbit not only gives instruments aboard ACE an excellent view of the Sun and a range of deep space beyond it, the orbit and satellite provides an early warning devise for possible dangerous and damaging solar events on course with Earth.

Transmissions from the ACE satellite give scientists and others an approximately one hour advance warning of upcoming geomagnetic storms that will effect Earth. The lives of space travelers may depend on warnings from ACE concerning occurring solar flares. Early warning provided by ACE allow the operators of some satellites an opportunity to take protective actions for their equipment to shield it from potentially damaging solar and geomagnetic events.

09 Nov 2007; 05:04 UTC: Still not convinced that solar wind has substance? Listen to a sonic boom produced by a stream of solar wind. The event was captured and converted into an audio file by JPL personnel.







28 Oct 2007; 05:59 UTC:  New ionosonde station at San Miguel De Tucuman becomes operational.  Good news for amateur radio operators interested in high frequency communications comes in many forms. At the top of the good news list, at about this point in the 11-year solar cycle, is seeing a steady increase in sun spot numbers - a sure messenger of growing solar activity. Our news is not quite that good - but it is still a reason for celebration.  So what is the news pray-tell Dr. Webmaster? "A new ionosonde. Don't rush me."

The announcement of the opening of a new ionosonde station located in San Miguel De Tucuman toped the news in a recent INAG Bulletin. Data from the ionosonde can benefit Hams interested in chasing DX as well as hams interested in studying HF propagation.


Users of the high frequency portion of the radio wave spectrum interested in HF propagation nowcasts and forecasts have access to near real-time data from the new ionosonde via a system of  IPS' real-time global maps of the F2 Layer.


The INAG Bulletin is published by Australia's IPS Radio Space Services.

This Website subscribes to the IPS F2 Map system and the INAG Bulletin.

24 Oct 2007; 15:27 UTC:  The Alerts page is running in a semi-automatic update mode while testing is being conducted.


24 Oct 2007: New Links pages start to appear on the Website.

The Website's Links pages were removed several day ago to undergo major updating. Today, the first of the replacement pages was published. The new page is stark at the moment - but it is expected to grow rapidly over the next few days.


The Links to Important Websites page leads off with listings for space weather prediction centers. URLs for the newly named Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) head the list. A note on the format of SWPC pages and what SWPC subscribers can expect to find on the newly named Agency's webpages is included. URLs for additional centers will be added later today.

On several occasions in the past, a website reader has suggested that a page or category of pages be added to our Links page. The suggested page has been one that the reader thought important for users of space weather data and for HF propagation students and enthusiasts. When the reader suggested a specific URL be included, that URL has pointed to a treasure trove of valuable information that we have overlooked. We welcome requests such as these. If you have a URL that you would like to share with others, please submit it to us at webmaster@zseltvay.com

The Webmaster is a subscriber to most of the major space weather and many general space oriented technical journals and publications. He also subscribes to many amateur radio publications.



23 Oct 2007: Many, many, many mentions of  the "solar wind" can be found in articles on the Website. Many of the now out-dated reports that can still be found on the Website detail the effects that the solar wind has on Earth's geomagnetic conditions and hence, high frequency (HF) propagation. The old reports that give the effects that solar wind played on propagation conditions at the time can still have some educational use (the days of the out-dated reports are limited - but we will try to preserve some of the very unusual conditions mentioned in a few of the reports).

With all of the mentions of solar wind that one sees on this and other websites, seldom will one find how "solar wind" was actually discovered. The discovery of solar wind has been discussed on this website in the past. That was some time a go and those pages was deleted at some point in time. The topic of the discovery of solar wind might interest some readers. The solar wind along with the ionizing effects of sun spots cause the changes seen in HF propagation. For that reason, as well as general interest in solar wind, we again discus the how and when of the discovery of "solar wind".

The discovery of solar wind came from the observation of the ionized tails of comets in 1958. Pictures and illustrations of comets usually show a bright poorly defined ball of light trailed by a decreasing less bright tail. Those images show comets as they approach Earth's Sun. Interestingly enough for some is the fact that a comet's tail does not always follow a comet.

A comet's tail always points away from the Sun. This holds true for comets in  orbit leaving the region of the Sun as well as those that are approaching the Sun. The reason for this: "solar wind". We know how powerful the effect of the solar wind can be when we measure its effect on the distortion of Earth's magnetic field as the solar wind's speed varies. The solar wind's effect on a comet leaving the Sun can be seen by it pushing a comet's tail a head of the comet. A comet's tail contains ionized particles and gases. The magnetic and electrical properties of the highly ionized solar wind interacting with ionized materials in a comet's tail shape and direct the comet's tail.

Something very powerful has to be pushing on a comet's tail to cause it to precede the comet itself. That something is the "solar wind". We hope that you share some of our interest in how space weather effects high frequency radio wave propagation. That is the theme of this website.



23 Oct 2007:  Website Links Pages are Removed. The Website's Links pages have been temporarily removed from the Website. Replacement pages with updated URLs will be published within the next few days. One of the reasons for a major page update at this time is to allow us to accommodate new and changed URLs for the Space Weather Prediction Center.


On October 01, 2007, the Space Environment Center's (SEC) name was changed to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). URLs previously active for the SEC will continue to work during the near future. Parallel URLs are expected to be introduced quickly.

On October 01, 2007, the Space Environment Center's (SEC.) name was changed to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). URLs previously active for the SEC will continue to work during the near future. Parallel URLs are expected to be introduced quickly.

The SWPC is the primary source of the space weather data used by most amateur radio operators - and a large percentage of all of the other space weather data consumers. Hams are very fortunate in that they can obtain space weather information directly from the Agency. The new Links page will list the URLs that provide that direct access to the SWPC's data banks. Our direct connections allow us to gather real-time and near real-time data from the SWPC just as quickly as any other subscriber - governmental or private. Very nice!


Monday, October 1, 2007, marked the departure of an old friend, the Space Environment Center (SEC), and the inauguration of its replacement, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). the SEC has been the subject of two major structural changes in the past three years.  What is behind the name change?  How will space weather reporting change?  The early history of the SEC (Space Environment Center.)  A change in name



08 Sep 2007: An introduction to parameters used in propagation models: A Brief  Introduction Of How Solar Activity Is Expressed In Propagation Models. A more detailed approach to this topic is available on the Web Site as well.


Over the past several weeks several stations have been seen on the PSK31 portion of the 20-meter amateur band (14070 MHz) using the "RSQ" system for signal reports. Very brief information is given below for new readers not familiar with the terms "PSK-31" and "RSQ" signal reports. Stations using the "RSQ" ("Readability", "Strength", and "Quality") system of signal reporting have been observed in Canada, and from two stations in the Pacific. These areas dominate the geographic order of stations using the modified system of signal reporting. Single stations seen in both Brazil and the United States finish the list. 


Terminology Used In the Proposed Changes To Signal Reports When Using  Modern Digital Modes.

International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Regions One and Three have formally proposed and endorsed a change in the terminology used in signal reports for digital modes used below 30 MHz. The following is behind the change being proposed.


When neophytes to a particular technical subject first go to the Internet for information in a technical area, they are often faced with web pages using multiple acronyms and un-defined terms.  Even old hands can be stymied when they are first faced with new ways of the saying things. Terms used in the IARU proposal and the reasons for Regions One and Three suggesting a change in operating policy follow. Hopefully this will help provide answers for some who have asked why changes are being studied.

In the paragraphs below, we have defined both the acronym for signal reports used in CW communication and the acronym being proposed for use with the new digital modes (while operating in the high frequency amateur radio bands).  A reason for this change, while given in other sections of the web site, may not be obvious to all.


The amateur radio operator tells a great deal about himself by the way he handles his CW key. His style of sending, the sound of his signal, his spacing of characters, etc. speak for him. It is the sound that he is all-important. In this case, the letter " T ", standing for "Tone" makes good sense when it is used in a signal report.


Tones are used in communicating using the new digital communication modes also. Here tones are decoded by machines, not a human's ears. The amateur radio operator actually sees the signal that he is receiving on a computer monitor. The received signal moves from the transceiver to the computer sound card where it starts to be processed by the computer. The received signal is portrayed by a line or lines, moving slowly across a field on the face of the monitor. A sloppy signal looks sloppy. A clean signal has a very distinctive appearance defined by the digital mode being used.


When using an amateur radio digital mode the appearance of the signal being received along with the accuracy of characters printed on the screen (while the signal is processed by the computer) determine the signal's " Quality " as given in the signal report. Up until now, hams using digital modes such as PSK31 have used the same "RST" signal reporting system that was long ago adopted by CW operators. Some feel that the RST system falls short in being meaningful when it is used with a digital mode of communication.


13 Aug 2007, 03:50 UTC: The Webmaster extends his "thank you" to hams reporting information on the  "Readability", "Strength", "Quality" (RSQ) system of signal reports being recommended by International Amateur Radio Union Regions One and Three as a possible replacement for the "RST" system. The recommendation pertains to signal reports exchanged using digital modes (this does not include digital voice transmissions) of transmissions. Further details on this topic are included in several of the paragraphs below.

Graeme Harris, VK3BGH, forwarded a link to an article that appeared in "QRZ.com Ham Radio Newsline Report 1565" ( http://www.qrz.com/ib-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST&f=3&t=164751 ). The Newsline report adds some details on the "RSQ" subject, such as the 10-14 September 2007 dates scheduled for the IARU Region Two conference. Readers interested in this topic can review the article for themselves.

Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF, the author of the Newsline report appears hazzy on part of the issue and his report may lead to some confusion.

The "RSQ" signal reporting system is proposed as a replacement for the "RST" system for Digital Keyboard Modes. "RSQ" would not replace "RST" reports for Digital Voice Modes. Hams do not use "RST" for voice modes - digital or analog. Signal reports for voice modes use a two digit "Readability" "Strength" format. A "T" (Tone) parameter is not used in voice reports.

As mentioned earlier on this web site, the "RST" system is very appropriate when giving a signal report during a "CW" dialog. The "RST" system would not change for "CW". The "Readability", "Strength", "Quality" system would pertain to digital signals below 30 MHz where the exchanges between operators is observed on a computer screen or some other form of visual display

Hopefully the "RSQ" signal reporting system has been defined well enough that we will not need to explain the general concept (definition and when and where on the amateur bands the system is proposed to be utilized) further. We will publish a page separate from this, the Home page, summarizing the "RSQ" concept


"PSK" , "Phase Shift Keying", is a digital mode that uses a very narrow portion of bandwidth to communicate. Computer keyboards replace the microphone and CW key used by some hams transmitting other forms of  "digital" signals. With PSK instead of changing the frequency for a signal mark and a space value - the two values are formed by a 180 degree phase shift. The phase shift is created through the use of a Microprocessor Controlled (Digital Signal Processor - abbreviated DSP) filter on the front end of the transmitted signal. In addition to creating a phase shift, the DSP filter also shapes the wave form of the very narrow transmitted signal..


The form of PSK most often used is "PSK-31".  "31" is the baud rate used. "31 baud" is equal to 50 words per minute (wpm).


Webmaster request help from the readership.


1. The following facts are believed to be entirely accurate but they represent the Webmaster's understanding of the situation and they are subject to being corrected by those in authority. The Webmaster has no authority to set policy or speak for any group. He is not a decision maker in the matter of changing the structure of signal reports.


2. As noted below, there is a move among some amateur radio operators using the various digital modes on the high frequency (HF) bands to change the method of signal reporting. The change is being requested so that signal reports would contain information relevant to the architecture of the digital modes of communications. The change would be effective for all of the (new) digital modes being used on frequencies in the amateur radio HF bands.


3. International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Regions One and Three have formally proposed and endorse a change in the method used for signal reports exchanged by operators using digital modes on the HF bands. Some exceptions may exist but are unknown by the Webmaster. Digital voice communications and "older", long established digital modes could be outside of the recommendations. Signal reports for Continuous Wave (CW) communication utilizing hand keying methods would not change.


4. IARU Region Two has discussion of digital mode signal reporting on its agenda for its September 2007 conference. As of this time, Region Two does not take a position on how signal reports should be structured.


5. Currently, signal reports exchanged during conversations using any of the newer digital modes follow the established structure used by CW operators. The established CW structure is "RST" (Readability, Strength, and Tone).


6. The system proposed by IARU Regions One and Three is based on "RSQ" (Readability, Strength, and Quality)

A few reasons for changing the signal report structure are mentioned below. More information will be published on the Web Site.

Amateur radio operators that have an opinion on how to best structure a meaningful signal report are asked to convey that information along with the reasons for that opinion to IARU Region Two representatives. It is suggested that materials forwarded to IARU officials that contain the observations of several hams might be the most meaningful - i.e. perhaps structured as a petition?!

Material forwarded to the Webmaster will be delivered to the appropriate IARU officials. Should a reader be an IARU official, please let the Webmaster know this. This could expedite the shipping process and may help keep the Webmaster's costs down. The IARU conference is in Brasilia and is scheduled to be held next month (September, 2007). Materials should come in quickly. They will go out via air.

Hams that write for newsletters due to be published very soon might be able to use that avenue to solicit input from the amateur radio community served.

Not all input is expected to be positive for a change to the "RSQ" signal report structure. All materials received by the Webmaster will be forwarded to the IARU as received and also in a compiled format.

Historically, the response of the readership to a request was huge. The Webmaster has requested help from the readership for matters effecting amateur radio several times in the past. The most fervent request involved ALL of the Web Site readership.


Many may remember when we came close to losing a close partner and the main source of our space weather information, the U.S. Space Environment Center (SEC). Frankly the Web Site was better maintained at that time and the numbers of readers was astounding. Just as astounding was the strength of support readers gave. The existence of the U.S. Space Environment Center (SEC) was expected by everyone (especially the SEC and U.S. Senate) to be terminated by our Government (fiscal years 2002, 2003 and 2004). That did not happen. In large part the amateur radio community saved the SEC. The SEC has expressed its appreciation through this Web Site several times.


We have attempted to stay clear of issues that have caused sharp division in the amateur radio community. Our support, for or against, positive or negative, etc. is reserved for issues that we believe will benefit all hams. We do not see how abandoning the "RST" system of signal reporting and adopting the "RSQ" system will rile any in our ranks. Giving an amateur radio operator a value for his "Tone" (as in RST ) while we watch his signal on a waterfall and do not listen to anything other than the click of keys on our keyboard is meaningless. Expressing Quality (as in RSQ) of a signal can mean quite a lot to the conscientious operator.

Giving a ham a low value for signal "Quality" just seems to be nicer than saying "OM ur sig is 500 KHz wide ur splattering over 10 QSOs ur track wanders like a snake and ur wife's cooking ... BTU de KC4COP pse K

BTU de KC4COP pse k


09 Aug 2007, 20:05 UTC:  Web Site search capability has been restored to the Home page. We confess to not knowing that it was missing until earlier today when we tried to use it ourselves. Our testing of the search function during the past few hours indicates that the search engine is working correctly. Please let us know if you find the situation to be otherwise. We appreciate readers letting us know of problems. The Web Site's proof reader is a horrible speller and he deserts his post whenever he feels like it. The job is open for anyone who would like to help.


07 Aug 2007, 20:43 UTC: Perseids meteor shower


Perseids meteors will be visible from 17 July to 24 August this year. We will post a little more on observing the meteors as the date for their maximum visibility comes closer. Visibility by human eye is scheduled to reach maximum intensity an hour or so before sunrise on 13 August. The visibility of this meteor shower for 6-meter radio waves will most likely occur on approximately the same schedule. The intersection of rock fragments with Earth's ionosphere should be at the same time for visible light and radio wave radiation this time around (We trust that some of our readers will correct this statement should it be correct).

The Perseids Meteor Shower will give amateur radio operators an opportunity to use "meteor scatter propagation" in a way new to many of us.

Meteor scatter propagation uses the ionoized gas trail left by meteors passing through Earth's ionosphere as a means to increase radio wave propagation well beyond normal limits.

The amateur radio 6-meter band is an ideal band to use for meteor scatter. Very fast CW is the mode of choice for meteor scatter propagation. Historically 6-meter rigs equipped with the capability of transmitting and receiving 150 - 200 wpm + CW have been rare. Many of the newer high frequency transceivers on the market today are capable of 6-meter work. With the HF bands now opened to more hams than ever before, it is reasonable to expect a much larger number of 6-meter capable radios are poised and waiting for that first shooting star to pop out of the Perseids dust cloud. Fast machine coded CW is also becoming a greater possibility for more hams. The timing trains of CW must be perfect for a machine to be able to read CW at all.

Will other digital modes (such as PSK) find wide spread use for meteor scatter? Probably not right away. PSK31 equates to 50 wpm. High speed CW is up in the 150 to 200 wpm region by necessity. An ionized gas meteor trail may allow meteor scatter propagation for 6 seconds or a little more. Call signs and signal reports QSLed at both ends will take more time than that allowed by most of our current digital modes (cw excepted).

wpm = words per minute

cw = continuous wave

HF = high frequency radio waves ( 3 to 30 MHz)


07 Aug 2007, 17:07 UTC:    FYI (For Your Information). We have not evaluated this program. Its publication is being noted by the Northern California DX Foundation. Probably enough said.

Faros is a new automatic beacon monitoring program by VE3NEA which accurately distinguishes beacon signals from noise to measure signal-to-noise, QSB, and propagation delay. Results are available in graphic form or logged for historical analysis.




05 Aug 2007: An Early Report On the "RSQ" Signal Reporting Scheme: Since the below note was published a little over 30 hours ago, twelve QSOs, using PSK3l, have been logged by KC4COP. These are QSOs where  "RSQ"  signal reports were given by KC4COP in response to the receipt of a "RST" report. Station operators have been polite (for the most part) but no one has really seemed to "get it". Perhaps more time is needed before the air is filled with converts.

The following signal report scale is being proposed on  http://rsq-info.net/

 Perfectly readable 
 Practically no difficulty, occasional missed characters
 Considerable difficulty, many missed characters
 Occasional words distinguishable
  S9   Very Strong trace
  S7   Strong trace
  S5   Moderate trace
  S3   Weak trace
  S1   Barely perceptible trace
  Q9   Clean signal - no visible unwanted sidebar pairs
  Q7   One barely visible pair
  Q5   One easily visible pair
  Q3   Multiple visible pairs
  Q1   Splatter over much of the spectrum

What say you?

A note on propagation. The 20-meter contacts were made at a very low point of solar activity during the current 11-year solar cycle. Forty to fifty watts were reportedly used by all operators in QSO.

Terms and expressions used:

"RSQ" : Readability, Strength, and Quality

"RST" Readability, Strength, and Tone)

Instead of paddles or microphone, why not try a computer keyboard and sound card for a foray into one of the newer digital modes open to amateur radio operators. A "foray" may imply something exotic. That (exotic) is not really the case when talking about some of the newer digital modes such as "PSK31". Most hams probably already have everything that is needed for at least an afternoon of experimenting with PSK31. Equipment requirements include: transceiver and a computer fitted with a keyboard and sound card. Free software for PSK31 can be downloaded from the World Wide Web (WWW)  for all of the major operating systems. Software designed for a single digital mode may be the best choice for initial experimentation using sound card modulated PSK31. "DigiPan" is a very popular Windows program for PSK31. Some claim it to be the best software package available for this digital mode on a Windows computer. It may very well be. We will publish a small article featuring "DigiPan" a little later today.

The above list of equipment along with an antenna and an appropriate software package is all that is actually needed to try out PSK31. Most hams will opt to add a sound card interface to the above because it aids in tuning a signal and furnishes signal conditioning components. A PSK beginner will get a better and faster start if he uses a sound card-transceiver interface module - but the interface is not essential.

A good reason for choosing PSK31 as a beginning point in digital communication is that it is a digital mode where operators can work DX  with even a very modest station. In fact the use of high power is frowned upon when working PSK31. Excessively wide signals produced using high power can occupy the same band space that could otherwise accommodate QSOs for two or three pairs of stations operating "in the clear" of one another. Thirty to forty watts used on a normal 20-meter propagation day is adequate for QSOs spanning over five or six thousand miles. QSOs meeting this performance are heard most  afternoons when solar activity is low or even very low and the Kp-Index is running in the range of 2 to 3. Very exciting!

The above paragraphs have at least hinted at most everything that is needed to start using PSK31. In theory, you can put it all together in an afternoon. In actual practice several days often are required to get everything tuned and the new operator educated.

QSOs on PSK31 are often a lot more than just exchanging signal reports. The typical PSK operator enjoys talking with other hams and "rag-chewing". Exchanging signal reports is an important part of a QSO. This is particularly true when first setting up a digital modes station. You usually do not have a way to monitor your own signal and a poorly constructed signal can be irritating to other hams. As is true for all forms of radio wave communication, a signal report from another ham is the best way to find out the quality of your transmissions. Truthful high quality signal reports should become a regular component of your side of a QSO.

Historically signal reports for stations using PSK31 have followed the same pattern used for CW signal reports. A "RST" Readability, Strength, and Tone) report makes good sense when it is used to describe audible CW signals. This is not true for a PSK31 signal. PSK signals are likely to be inaudible to the radio operators in contact with one another. PSK31 signals, or signals from any of the several off-shoots of it, are usually silent to operators in QSO. Most commonly PSK31 signals are observed on a "waterfall" while words are displayed on a computer monitor. PSK31 operators rarely hear the other parties' or their own signals. Operators that choose to listen to the signals produced by PSK hear a high pitched whine that can get to be annoying quickly. But each to their own.

How does "T" (standing for tone) used in a CW signal report translate into something meaningful to a ham watching, rather than hearing, the signal of the other ham in QSO?

Meaningful PSK31 signal reports have been discussed at International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) meetings for several years. International Amateur Radio Union Regions One and Three have formally proposed replacing the "RST" reporting system with the "RSQ" (Readability, Strength, and Quality) system for signal reporting for all of the high frequency (HF) digital modes of communication. We are unaware of the position being taken by IARU Region Two at this time.

Amateur Radio Station KC4COP started using the "RSQ" system on 20-meter along side of the "RST" signal report quite some time ago. No one in QSO with KC4COP had ever heard of "RSQ" signal reports. Also when asked, no one had any idea how to define "Tone" as it relates to "PSK". It is our hope that this will change and standardization of signal parameters for digital signals will be adopted. If you see KC4COP on 20-meters you most likely see "RSQ" reports given along with "RST".

In the above "PSK" is used as an example of the problem of giving a meaningful signal report when using any of the newer digital modes of communication.

PSK31 is a digital mode based on RTTY. PSK is used for live keyboard-to-keyboard QSOs conducted at the rate of 31 Baud (50 words per minute). The "Official PSK page" http://aintel.bi.ehu.es/psk31.html

IARU Region 3 recommendation

August 2006: IARU Region 3 adopts RSQ signal reporting

We are pleased to advise the IARU Region 3 conference in Bangalore has just adopted the RSQ signal reporting table for HF digital modes.

The Region 3 proposal was put to the Bangalore conference by the Wireless Institute of Australia and although the conference minutes are not due until November we understand that an amended motion was accepted as policy at the Plenary session.

The conference minutes will be published on the RSQ website when available. In the meantime the WIA proposal may be viewed by downloading from the link below. The motion amendment has been added in RED at the end of the paper.

Click here to download the acrobat PDF reader | WIA RSQ Paper to IARU R3 (PDF 19.5 KB) 




Ionosonde Reports: Most of our readers are familiar with the role of  ionosonde data in obtaining near real-time HF propagation data and its use in short-term HF propagation forecasts. The data format varies from reporting stations.

Readers not familiar with ionosonde data and its use can find out more by using the Web Site's search engine. A refresher explanation is available.

Suggested change in format of ionosonde data email received Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SAO XML as a data exchange format for ionosonde data

The University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Atmospheric Research (UMLCAR) has developed a new ionosonde data exchange format.  The development of this format arises from extensive experience in ionosonde data exchange and archiving, as well as a thorough evaluation by several members of the ionospheric community. The data format has been discussed in a number of forums over a number of years. The new data exchange format is called SAO XML 5.0. This represents a major change from a conventional data structure to one based on the XML standard.

The Ionosonde Network Advisory Group (INAG) leadership has reviewed this new format and is satisfied with the extent to which UMLCAR has consulted various stake holders and with the evaluation that has taken place at various ionosonde stations. We recommend that SAO XML 5.0 be adopted as a standard data exchange format for ionosonde data producers and users. This recommendation will be

25 Jul 2007: Why are you seeing obviously outdated references for space weather and radio wave propagation on this page? The explanation is lengthy and probably boring for most readers. In brief, web site archchitecture is being changed and patched links are being uncovered that reference imbedded pages containing old data. We are finding that removing data from imbedded pages that no longer exists is not an easy process. Of course we had no idea that any of this would occur when we started making some changes a few says ago.

Periodically questions arise concerning "geomagnetic coordinates". Is there a difference between Geographical and Geomagnetic Coordinates? What are we talking about when we mention Lower, Middle and Higher Latitudes?

Today we will lead you to a place on the web site that will help you find out the geomagnetic coordinates of your QTH (location). Later we will show you where you can learn the answers to other question dealing with Earth's geomagnetic field.

Values that express the condition of Earth's geomagnetic field are located on the "Geomagnetic Conditions and Forecast" page.   A link to a program to help you calculate the geomagnetic coordinates for your QTH is on the "Geomagnetic Conditions and Forecast" page.

Another helpful link is also on the Geomagnetic Conditions..... page. This link does not require any calculations - point and shoot on a map.

From SIDC  RWS  World Data Center for the Sunspot Index,

The lowest International Sunspot Number (Ri) during March 2005 was SSN =  " 1 " on 01 March

The highest International Sunspot Number (Ri) during March 2005 was SSN =  " 43 " on 11 March

An explanation of the various methods for determining the Sunspot Number is available on site.



There is no need to memorize the fact that a "Kp-Index" of  "7" is a "G3" geomagnetic storm.  Or what  "X-Ray level"  is associated with a Radio Blackout of "R3".  Need to know how to interpret the WWV signal? Our new search engine can help you find the answers.  


The effects of solar weather and geomagnetic conditions on HF radio waves and their propagation.




Website Statistics. The following stats reflect the number of times that this page has been visited since the Website was split in 2003. The Website's two major sections, "Space Weather and Propagation" and "Space Medicine" are now independent and sport their own website.


In the past, visitor counters were not visible on the Website. The color of the fonts used to display the counters matched the page's background color. Search engines crawlers began to set encountering text or graphic

We have republished an article on the construction and placement of the protective Tiles used on the space craft in NASA's Space Shuttle fleet at the time of the Space Shuttle Columbia's accident on 01 Feb 2003. If the article draws interest, we may publish some of the papers and news reports connecting the tiles to events leading up to Columbia's re-entry break-up.  The article, as it stands, includes references to the investigation of Columbia's accident. 

There are many, many stories that go with this series. Explanations of exactly what occurred concerning the tile failure leading to the Space Shuttle Columbia's breakup was reported on this Web Site some seven months prior to the release of the accident report by the official accident investigation committee. Think about it ! The series has been in constant publication preventing any changes in facts or dates. The series is NASA documented.



Readers can visually follow the rotational progress of a coronal hole on Site.  NOTE from the Webmaster on 28 March 2005. This image will be available again at the end of the current "bakeout period".  The current bakeout period will end on 31 March.  


Two pages that may be of interest to a wide number of readers are Sunspot Counting Methods,  a web page giving a moderately detailed explanation of how the sunspot number is calculated, and the Radio, A, and K - Indices page. Topics included on these pages include how the Maximum Usable Frequency for an area is derived,   ionosondes and  ionograms, and a link to understanding the WWV report.


  Huygens Mission page.


QUICK FACTS FROM NASA: Remember the Genesis Mission ? It was the space mission where a spacecraft spent two years collecting solar particles. It was was the mission where the returning spacecraft crashed ( September 2004 ) into a desert in Utah and buried itself in the hard rock and sand near the location where it was to be picked up by a helicopter as the spacecraft was parachuting through Earth's atmosphere.

Samples of solar particles were obtained over a 884-day period. The amount of solar wind particles obtained equaled 0.4 milligrams. Hardly more that a grain or two of table salt. The solar wind samples continue to be studied at the Johnson Space Center.


Cassini-Huygens Mission

The Cassini-Huygens Mission has been the subject of several articles on this Web Site. A summary of the mission starts on the Cassini Mission page. (25 K)

A news release from the European Space Agency on the Huygens descent to the surface of Titan (26 K)

An image of the surface of the moon, Titan. (26 K)

Links to Sounds recorded on 14 Jan 2005, as the Huygens module parachutes through the atmosphere of Titan. (26K) 

A synopsis of the Cassini-Huygens space craft ,  mission, and scientific studies starts on the Cassini page. Other pages on the Web Site cover details of the equipments and goals of this mission. News updates  start on the Cassini Update page.


What is a "Tenflare" and how does a "Tenflare" influence high frequency radio wave propagation ?

An operational definition of "Tenflare" is located on a new page called Propagation_Other Influences. Terms that are occasionally found in reports on space weather will be added to this page near the time that they are introduced in a report on the Web Site.


...........Text Lost Below the Break point..........please note the spot about the Russian Government.............


[FrontPage ExtWebComponent Component]

29 Aug 2003,  00:02 UTC: The Columbia Accident Investigation Board released their final report  on the 01 Feb 2003 disaster.  The blame was placed equally on a piece of foam hitting and breaking a reinforced carbon carbon shield - letting hot plasma to enter the space craft.  The remainder of the blame was attributed to "NASA's organizational culture".  Links to the various Columbia Accident Investigation are on this web site's Shuttle Press Release page.

04 May 2003,  02:55 UTC: NASA and the Russian space organization Energia have signed agreements that spell out the place of amateur radio on the station. A technical team, called ISS Ham, has been officially established to serve as the interface to support hardware development, crew training and on-orbit operations.


21 Apr 2003,  22:10 UTC: Much earlier this year the Russian Government extend an invitation to the Web Master to join a scientific panel to study THE TUNGUSKA EVENT. This panel will meet in Russia from 25 June  2003,  through 2 July 2003.

A study of the 95 year old mystery that took place in Siberia in 1908, promises to be another  "Don't Miss It" affair. Everybody that is anybody will be there - except us of course. The Web Master is grateful to the Russian Government for their kind invitation.   A quick click on this link will take you to some of the details.



24 Feb 2003, 15:45 UTC : There has been quite a bit of press stating that tile failure could not have caused the Columbia, tragedy. 

On 13 Feb 2003, The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), published a statement that a "plasma" in the Space Shuttle Columbia's Left Wheel Well may have caused Columbia's destruction. The Board's statement went on to say that "The CAIB said heat transfer through the structure, as from a missing tile, would not be sufficient to cause the temperature indications seen in the last minutes of flight."

NASA evidence from as early as 1988 may contradict one of the latest statement made by The Columbia Accident Investigation Board.  The Third Installment on Shuttle Tiles.


  • Readers of this Web Site have the opportunity to study the various tiles used on a Space Shuttle, tile  construction, and previous tile damage. Amazingly, much of the previous tile damage has been in the same areas that were first damaged on Columbia.

  • You can read facts about Shuttle Tiles and come to you own conclusions as you listen to press releases. An article on Space Shuttle Tiles begins on the Shuttle Tiles Page 1. Additional installments to the article have been published. A new installment is due today or tomorrow. ( NOTE: Article was completed in February, 2003 )

24 Feb 2003,  15:45 UTC : We have published radar returns from the National Weather Service showing the debris from Columbia, on its final return to Earth on 1 Feb 2003. Radar returns over a 2 hour period have been published from  Weather Service Radars in Fort Worth and Shreveport. The images are located on the STS-107 Radar page. Most of our readers can read radar returns. Novice readers should be interested in the data displayed on the radars. More advanced readers will be amazed at all of the implications of these returns.

18 Feb 2003,  21:00 UTC : This item was originally published on 16 Feb. It was pulled off  the Web Site earlier today while a fact was reviewed. The fact remains unchanged. Information in this item comes from  from the NASA Shuttle Reference Manual.
    • On 13 Feb 2003, The Columbia Accident Investigation Board, published a statement that a "plasma" in the Space Shuttle Columbia's Left Wheel Well may have caused Columbia's destruction. The Board's statement went on to say that "The CAIB said heat transfer through the structure, as from a missing tile, would not be sufficient to cause the temperature indications seen in the last minutes of flight."

      Who said "one" missing tile?  A small opening in a number of areas mentioned in the Web's article would allow high temperatures to enter the temperature sensitive wing or adjacent structural areas

      NASA evidence from as early as 1988  contradicts one of the latest statement made by The Columbia Accident Investigation Board.  

In 1988 NASA said : "During flight operations, damage has occurred in the area between the RCC (Reinforced Carbon-Carbon TILE) nose cap and the nose landing gear doors from impact during ascent and excess heat during entry

NASA indicated "The HRSI tiles (High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation Tiles) in this area are to be replaced with RCC (Reinforced Carbon-Carbon Tiles)".

"Because of evidence of plasma flow on the lower wing trailing edge and elevon leading edge tiles (wing/elevon cove) at the outboard elevon tip and inboard elevon, the LRSI tiles ( Low-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation Tiles) are replaced with FRCI-12 and HRSI 22 (the most dense form -and the most Efficient High-Temperature dissipation type of High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation Tile) tiles along with gap fillers on Discovery (OV-103) and Atlantis (OV-104). On Columbia (OV-102), only gap fillers are being installed in this area." This was in the days of early Shuttle Flight. NASA

13 Feb 2003,  21:06 UTC : The first installment in an article on the "Tiles that Cover the Space Shuttle" has been published on the Shuttle Tiles Page 1 web page. The article covers the types of tiles that are used, the material that make up the various tiles, the physical and chemical properties of the different tiles, where each of the tiles are used, the manufacturing process for making each of the different tiles, and the fastening process to hold the tiles in place. The article also discusses the history of tile failures. This original article is based on facts gleaned from NASA.

The pages have been designed to download quickly

A Table of Contents is located at the top of the first page to help the reader find specific information quickly. Questions and corrections may be directed to the Webmaster.


  This page Last Updated    21 May 2009 07:42 PM    CST   U.S.