The 6m transatlantic path via aurora has been reported before by others and is certainly nothing new, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s more viable than many might think. We had another decent aurora on 31st December, most of which I missed due to the New Year’s Eve celebrations, but I decided to check westerly conditions when I returned home sometime after midnight.
Once again I was surprised to find the VE4ARM beacon (EN09at, 6011km) at a good strength at approximately 01:40z (Jan 1st) followed about ten minutes later by VY0SNO (FP53rs, 3653km). The opening was again quite short but there’s a possibility the path might have also existed earlier in the evening? After I had spotted the beacons on the dx cluster, VE4ARM was reported by Tim, G4FJK in IO80 at a great distance of 6346km, and the VY0 beacon was reported from PA and DL.
One fascinating little snippet: This time I managed to grab a decent recording of VY0SNO just before it faded. Listen very carefully to this clip, and you may be able to detect a sudden doppler shift of about +10Hz, 21.5 seconds in, coinciding exactly with a steep drop in the signal strength. I think that helps visualise the auroral-Es path dynamics rather nicely!
On the 17th December, shortly after 09z, there were two solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in rapid succession, both of which directed at least some of their ejecta towards the Earth. This was fair warning of the possibility of aurora due some time on the 19th, depending on exactly how fast the material was traveling. The strength of any aurora would also depend on the alignment of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field; for maximum effect we would need a strong southerly component.
As anticipated, the CMEs passed the ACE spacecraft at 13:05z on the 19th, hitting the Earth approximately one hour later. The good news, from our point of view, was that the IMF had a significant southerly component for much of the time, resulting in excellent coupling of the CMEs into the Earth’s magnetic field causing a nice strong aurora!
The aurora of 17th March 2015, St Patrick’s Day, was a superb event: It was good enough to propagate signals on 50MHz across the Atlantic, which I found particularly interesting. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to get anything in the blog about conditions on 144MHz, so here’s an effort to get at least something recorded!
The QSO map for 2m looked like this:
EI3KD (IO51vw) QSO map for 144MHz during aurora on 17th March, 2015
I spent most of the afternoon and early evening hours during the “St Patrick’s Day” aurora on 144MHz but when that started to fade I thought I’d follow the aurora westwards, listening on 50MHz where I had already heard a few very strongly auroral GMs, peaking at an azimuth of around 320/330˚.
At 21:02z I heard a weak and different-sounding signal, certainly auroral but more “Tone 5” than “Tone A”. After peaking the signal at an antenna azimuth of approximately 295˚, it turned out to be K2PLF in FM19 at a distance of 5272km! Unfortunately my 100 Watts wasn’t enough to be heard by him but it was the start of a fascinating couple of hours, listening to many weak signals popping up as stations in the USA and Canada called and worked each other.
Who’d have thought, 11 (or even 22) years ago, that aurora would be so rare this time around? There have been hardly any openings this far south, but we’ve had a couple in recent times.
On February 23rd, I worked Clive, GM4VVX in IO78ta at 17:38z. For some reason Clive was hearing me a lot better than I could hear him – I do have a lot of band noise the nearer north I beam, but it still seemed non-reciprocal?
On February 27th we had a slightly better opening. I worked a couple of Gs and GMs, but best dx was to SM4IVE (JO79sd/1682km) and SM7GVF (JO77ga/1565km) – all QSOs at a heading of 035 degrees.
The signals from SM7GVF were quite strong at times:
SM4IVE was weaker but still peaking around 54a. I haven’t found him on my recording yet (it may have been off at the time) – if I do I’ll add it to the playlist.