One of my hobbies is amateur radio, and one of the things that many of us ham radio geeks keep an eye on is sunspots. Sunspots are darker, cooler regions on the Sun created by intense magnetic fields breaking through the surface. As that solar activity increases, the Sun’s effect on the Earth’s ionosphere generally improves the propagation of shortwave radio signals. The Sun showed a substantial increase in sunspots over the first part of this month. This movie and still (assembled from data taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory) show the Sun in filtered white light. It’s dotted with more and larger sunspots than we have seen for quite a while, and I’ve noticed improved radio propagation, occasionally extending to VHF bands. The Sun is supposed to have passed the peak for this 11-year sunspot cycle, but it will still be producing more sunspots and solar storms during the rest of this solar cycle.


Video Credit: NASA

6 thoughts on “Sunspots

    • Reminds me of the Ladee launch last summer…

      That was pretty cool. I went to a beach on the LI south shore, I’d broadcast the message, 3 PhDs I know were (a) there with his kids, (b) one dune east, thought that was me argueing with the cop, and (c) actually saw the signs that the beach closed at midnight and turned around and was bummed.

      OK, now I have to tell the story (funny how that works out, right?) So I saw about the mission, probably on Ace, and I spread the word. We, and several others, most strangers, want to see an MX missile on a peaceful mission. (Just as glorious for the first 20 min, much nicer after that…)

      At -2min the cops pull up… things go rapidly off script from their perspective…

      They seemed to expect: Drunked teenagers, a fire, and a keg.

      They found: about 4 middle aged couples, 3 with kids. I forget how many kids. Zero kegs, zero drunks, no fire. I asked them to please turn their lights off so we could see the moon launch. They didn’t (not out of courtesy but bafflement and protocol), but they stayed beyond the berm and everyone else got the show, and I got the last visible (IIRC, third) stage after they left. They spent the final countdown threatening us that we “probably all had parking tickets by now” and didn’t like the response that “so there’s no point in leaving now, then?” until they gave up and drove on. Next day, a chemist up the hill from me, who makes large scale rockets and his own engines, said “I thought that sounded like you arguing with the cop.”

      Thank you, WJJH3. I enjoy your properly accredited NASA clips as much as I enjoy seeing you fight the proud fight against legal shutuppery.

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