HamSCI and Space Weather Overview

For those that missed the March 2024 club meeting, Sarah, KQ4NQO gave a presentation on space weather and information on HamSCI in relation to the upcoming solar eclipse.

Below is a summary of the information shared. Thanks Sarah!

Overview of space weather:

– The Sun sometimes “burps” and lets off electromagnetic energy and/or particles, called flares or coronal mass ejections.  This can impact propagation of radio waves since the ionosphere will get disturbed.

– Right now we are approaching solar maximum when the Sun lets off more energy overall, making events more likely as the Sun reverses it’s magnetic field.

– To check the space weather, go to: https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/communities/space-weather-enthusiasts-dashboard.  When more geomagnetic activity is predicted, this is when we get auroras and earlier this week we did have activity happening (see screenshot).  There was a larger “burp” that let off energy and particles towards Earth resulting in beautiful auroras for New Zealand, Australia and parts of Asia (see https://spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=25&month=03&year=2024).

HamSCI (https://hamsci.org):

–  I first became interested from reading about their planet-sized space weather monitoring network (https://eos.org/features/ham-radio-forms-a-planet-sized-space-weather-sensor-network – science perspective on what they are doing).  HamSCI is an organization of scientists and hams that look into space weather and their yearly get together this past weekend was very enjoyable (fun/geeky).  Slides and videos from the 2024 conference should be posted in the coming weeks (I especially enjoyed the Friday keynote – solar physicist came to talk about the Sun’s cycle and wore a Terminator T-shirt that tied into his talk), and their past meetings have recordings and slides too (https://hamsci.org/meetings).

– There are lots of options to get involved including the upcoming solar eclipse (if you do HF, join the QSO party!) and having your own personal space weather station (called Grape for Great Radio Amateur Propagation Experiment and grapes work best in bunches… yes, lots of groaning humor too in this group).

+ Solar Eclipse QSO Party (https://hamsci.org/seqp-rules): you don’t need to be in the path, join in and have fun!  Lots of opportunities for bonus points too if you operate outside (where you can see the eclipse), in public (so you can tell folks how awesome it is) and more.  I am going to be up in Cleveland in the path of totality and aiming to participate in this one!

+ Grape (https://hamsci.org/basic-project/personal-space-weather-station): they’re on to Grape 2 (will be commercially built, selecting from folks who applied), but Grape 1 (https://hamsci.org/grape1) can be built by anyone and they have all the instructions you need (designed for the DIY enthusiast).  This one I also agree with what they said at the conference/meeting – why wouldn’t you want your own space weather station (long-term project)!

– HamSCI has a great resources page too if you want to learn more about space weather or ham radio (https://hamsci.org/resources)

Here to There: Radio Wave Propagation (book by ARRL released recently for the current solar cycle, https://home.arrl.org/action/Store/Product-Details/productId/2010547491).  As someone with a background in STEM, I appreciated the amount of information in this cost effective book – I highly recommend if you are interested in learning more!