IT9MRM - Alberto Mattei


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Auroral Activity

Aurora is caused by interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind (a mix of charged particles blowing away from the sun).  During solar storms, enough of these charged particles make it through to the Earth's upper atmosphere that they interact with the earths natural magnetic field lines.  When enough of these particles collide, energy is released in the form of auroral light.  In addition to creating a pretty light show (mostly in upper latitudes), radio signals scatter off of these particles and can greatly enhance propagation on 6 meters and above. High levels of aurora can also make HF propagation via polar routes difficult.

Northern Hemisphere
Auroral Activity

Northern Hemisphere Aurora

Southern Hemisphere
Auroral Activity

Southern Hemisphere Aurora

Click on thumbnails to view a larger image
Images courtesy of the
NOAA Auroral Activity site

Solar X-ray Flux

This chart shows X-ray flux levels as measured by the GOES-8 and GOES-10 satellites.  The GOES-8 measurements (shown in red) are used to issue "solar alerts" when X-ray flux levels exceed certain levels.  Spikes on the chart correspond to solar flares.  Flares are considered "significant" when flux levels rise above the "M" level (as shown on the right side of the chart).  These large flares can often wipe out the bands almost immediately and it can take minutes to hours for the bands to recover.  If the bands seem to go dead all of a sudden, it is always a good idea to check this chart to see if a large flare has occurred recently.

Solar X-ray Flux

Dynamically updating plots:
5-minute X-ray    1-minute X-ray    Satellite Environment
K-index    Proton Flux   Electron Flux   GOES Magnetometer

 Grey Line Map

The grey line is a band around the Earth that separates the daylight from darkness.  Propagation along the grey line is very efficient.  One major reason for this is that the D layer, which absorbs HF signals, disappears rapidly on the sunset side of the grey line, and it has not yet built upon the sunrise side.  This map shows the current position of the grey line terminator.

Click here to show a dynamically updating Grey Line map

 Near-Real-Time MUF map

The following map shows Maximum Usable Frequencies (MUFs) for 3000 kilometer radio signal paths.  More importantly, the current sunspot number (SSN) and Planetary A-index are updated every 30 minutes on the bottom of this image.  Additionally, the grey line position, auroral ovals, and sun position are provided.  Click on the map for more details on how to use it.

Near-Real-Time MUF Map (with SSN & A-index)

This image courtesy of  Solar Terrestrial Dispatch

 Current Solar Images

The images below are current views of the sun shown at different wavelengths of light as taken by SOHO and the Yohkoh soft-Xray telescope.  Generally, more bright regions on the disk indicates more solar activity, which usually leads to higher solar flux levels (which usually leads to better propagation!).  Click on any thumbnail to view a larger image.

SOHO - 17.1nm

SOHO 17.1nm

SOHO - 19.5nm

SOHO 19.5nm

SOHO - 28.4nm

SOHO 28.4nm

SOHO - 30.4nm

SOHO 30.4nm

Yohkoh Soft X-rays

Yohkoh Soft X-ray

Sometimes you may see "CCD Bakeout" instead of the solar disc images.  This occurs when NASA does routine maintenance and calibration on the cameras.  For a more technical explaination, read NASA's CCD Bakeout explaination.

Images courtesy of the Solar Data Analysis Center at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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