Transatlantic aurora on 50MHz, 17/03/2015

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.

The estimated auroral oval at a slightly later time hints at why this path was possible:

Auroral oval 17/03/2015 23:15z

Auroral oval 17/03/2015 23:15z

Several North American stations were aware there was a transatlantic possibility and tried hard to optimise antenna headings, etc. In particular John, W1JJ, was heard here on and off for more than an hour but never got strong enough for my lower power to be heard. Fortunately, for a short while Doug VE1PZ‘s signal switched from aurora to auroral Es and came up considerably in strength – just long enough for a contact with myself and (the bit more QRO!) Tom, EI4DQ. It was fascinating listening to Doug’s signal switching between different modes of propagation, with all sorts of doppler effects and fading – the table below includes a few audio clips.

The log of (identified) stations I heard is below with audio where available, including one contact with VE1PZ. One thing to note is that a lot of these signals seemed strong enough to have been easily workable with QRO at this end – something to consider next time, whenever that might be!

17/03/15 UTCCallQTFLockmcommentaudio
21:02K2PLF295FM19sp5272first station heardn/a
21:11W1JJ295FN41gp4802heard on/off for >1 hour
21:49N4DB295FM07oi5591 ODX heard
21:58K2GV295FN30fq5005working VA3DXsee VA3DX
21:58VA3DX295FN03jd5216weak, working K2GV
21:58VE1PZ295FN85qr3958calling VA3DX?see VA3DX
22:22K2MUB295FN21or5019difficult, too fast
23:07VE1PZ295FN85qr3958Mixed AU/AUE. QSO! Also with EI4DQ

To give an idea of the distances and geometry, I’ve translated the locations on to a map:

50MHz transatlantic aurora heard/worked

50MHz transatlantic aurora heard/worked on 17/03/2015

3 thoughts on “Transatlantic aurora on 50MHz, 17/03/2015

  1. Paul PE7B

    Hi Mark,

    thanks for sharing these fascinating recordings here in your radio blog!

    I heard you earlier that evening working via the aurora on 144MHz. I was located on a hilltop near Liège, Belgium. My /P station was really not much more than a “backpacker QRP” station (FT-817 & home-made Moxon rectangle). But this certainly did not stop me from enjoying the memorable spectacle of the St Pat’s auroral opening (albeit only listening).

    I made some recordings and have uploaded a compilation of some of the highlights on my (PE7B) YouTube channel. The title of the video is: “St Patrick’s Day Aurora: 144MHz”. Your QSO with DL9NBD is featured, and I’ve also included the link to your blog entry in the list of references at the end of the video.

    73 de Paul PE7B

  2. Pingback: “St Patrick’s Day Aurora”, 144MHz | EI3KD

  3. Pingback: More transatlantic aurora | EI3KD

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