Ham Radio Propagation Studies

I’ve been waiting two years to work an ATNO, so it should be no surprise about how excited I am to work 3Y0Z. Rather than just “anxiously await”, I decided to collect some data and see if I can identify any interesting propagation behavior(s). The 20M openings at the West Coast sunset vs. sunrise and during “Cross Quarter Days” is something I have never looked at carefully. This now has me realizing what ham radio operators can do to advance the science of propagation.

While on vacation in Montana this past September, I read a fantastic book about Richard Carrington and the birth of modern day solar and propagation studies. The biggest take away is that while we know a lot about the solar cycle, there is probably a lot more that we don’t know. Reading the Sun Kings, I realized how important data is, and how some insights can be overlooked for years, such as what was going on during the Carrington Event. I also know that we know very little about 160M propagation, and so ham radio operators collecting data can actually do some great work in this area.

Another orthogonal connection that I made is reading the Samuel FB Morse biography reminded me that the Carrington Event happened in the early days of commercial telegraphy, and that it affected the telegraph lines and stations and even operators. What was interesting is what the solar astronomers knew and when. There was a big delay between when the Carrington Event happened, what solar astronomers saw and knew, and then later how several “mysteries” were solved. What was also interesting was how several astronomers quietly working away in their own world later shared their data which then validated their theories.

I think this is just one of many ways ham radio is a wonderful hobby and so much more. Even today with all of the technology and data available, we still have big opportunities for new discoveries.

How many hobbies can offer this?

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