Sunspots returned with the New Year, with sunspot numbers of 13, 16 and 16 on January 1-3. The new region was AR2732, and the area of the spot tripled each day, beginning at 10 millionths of the visible solar disc, then tripling to 30 on Tuesday, and 90 on Wednesday. This made the average daily sunspot number for the reporting week (December 27 to January 2) 4.1, compared to zero for the previous seven days.
Average daily solar flux rose slightly from 70 to 70.4.
Average daily planetary A index rose from 4.9 to 9.3, and average mid-latitude A index from 4 to 7.6.
Predicted solar flux for the next 45 days is 72 on January 4-5, 70 on January 6-11, 71 on January 12-19, 69 on January 20 through February 2, 71 on February 3-15, and 69 on February 16-17.
Predicted planetary A index is 15, 24, 15 and 8 on January 4-7, 5 on January 8-9, 10 on January 10, 5 on January 11-15, 12 on January 16, 5 on January 17-23, then 20, 12, 12 and 10 on January 24-27, 5 on January 28-30, 12 on January 31, then 15, 15 and 8 on February 1-3, 5 on February 4-11, 12 on February 12, and 5 on February 13-17.
Geomagnetic activity forecast for the period January 4-30, 2019 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH of the Czech Propagation Interested Group compiling this geomagnetic activity weekly forecast since 1978.
Geomagnetic field will be:
Quiet on January 10-12, 22-23, 29-30
Quiet to unsettled on January 13, 20, 27-28
Quiet to active on January 9, 14, 18-19
Unsettled to active on January 4-8, 15, 17, 21, 25-26
Active to disturbed on January 16-17, 24
Solar wind will intensify on January 3-7, (8, 13-14,) 15-19, (20-24,) 25-29
Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement.
This forecast was compiled on January 3. The next one will be compiled on January 31.
Jon Jones, N0JK, of Lawrence, Kansas wrote on January 3: "After a relatively lackluster December for sporadic-E, conditions improved at the end of December on to the first few days of the New Year.
“I had 6-meter Es December 28 to Canada, and the 29th to the southeast states. Logged several stations running just 10 watts on SSB.
“But the real DX took place on January 2, 2019. Six meters opened for sporadic-E around 1700z across North America and stayed open late into the evening. Around 2330z, Es links to afternoon trans-equatorial propagation across the geomagnetic equator set up an opening between North America and Australia.
“VK3OT, VK3DUT, VK4MA and others appeared suddenly on the JT65 and FT8 modes on 50 MHz. VK4MA worked east to Illinois on FT8. Larry, N0LL (EM09) decoded VK3OT and VK3DUT on JT65. He worked NH6Y on FT8. I copied one decode on NH6Y on FT8. The Hawaiian stations made contacts in Texas, Mississippi and the Rocky Mountain states.
“The ‘winter surprise’ North-America-to-VK/ZL openings have taken place in past years, with one of the occurring in late December 2015, but to occur with a solar flux of only 70 is remarkable. Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA discussed the mechanism of these openings in a column he wrote for the World Radio magazine."
Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW, of Easton, Pennsylvania regularly monitors the FM broadcast band for interesting openings. “On Friday, December 28, 2018 at 5:49 pm EST (2249 UTC), I was monitoring the FM broadcast band on 88.3 MHz and started to hear Spanish music, then when the music ended a male announcer. The signal, which was weak for roughly thirty seconds vaporized, being taken over by a mix from WRAU in Ocean City, Maryland (50 kW), and WPPB in Southampton, New York (25 kW). The unidentified station’s announcer sounded Cuban, which would be near 1274 miles to the south.
“While watching the DXMAPS website, spots were starting to come in on 6-meter SSB via Es from Massachusetts to Alabama, a 1154-mile path, at 2349 UTC.
“On December 29 at 0005 UTC, I picked up a 6-meter CW beacon from Maine to Manitoba, Canada, over 1315-mile path.
“By 0018 UTC, the MUF climbed up to 72 MHz above FN04 (Barrie, Ontario, Canada).
“Then, the unexpected happened. There were reports of 6-meter FT8 signals from Massachusetts to New Mexico over a 2133-mile path, which was double-hop Es event at 0032 UTC.
“At 0037 UTC MUF shot up to 95 MHz above EN92 (London, Ontario, Canada).
“There was a report of brief Es in the FM broadcast band from near Williamsport, Pennsylvania (FN11) to various stations south of Miami, Florida (EL95) up to 1118 miles away at 0055 UTC.
“Forty-five minutes later, analog television channel 6 was observed, likely from Cuba. Now the western panhandle of Florida to the lower Hudson Bay-James Bay, Canada was coming in on FT8 with the MUF stabilizing at 95 MHz on a 1572-mile path at 0100 UTC with FT8 mode.
“By this time at 0115 UTC I expected the MUF to begin crashing down into the HF bands. Nope – it rose 4 MHz higher to 99 MHz. By 0158 UTC the phenomenon peaked with a report of a weak analog television channel 2, CHBX in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (EN76) detected in Akron, OH (EN91) via short-hop sporadic-e at 406 miles.”
Jeff, N8II, of West Virginia wrote on December 29: "The only ray of sunshine Christmas week was some long path into Australia on 30 and 40-meter CW and Japan on 40-meter SSB and CW. It had been nearly 2 years since my last contacts with Japan on 40 meters outside of contests, and I failed to work any in this year's CQWW competition as well.
“The propagation conditions changed dramatically on the 29th (UTC) when there was widespread sporadic E just in time for the Radio Amateurs of Canada Winter Contest. I ran all 6 bands within 4 minutes with VE9HF in New Brunswick and worked several VE3s on 20 meters and many on 40 meters in the 0100Z hour, along with many USA stations. Some of the US stations were at very short distances in the 1/2/3/4/5/8/9th call areas on 40-meter SSB.
“Ten meters was open to W4/5 with lots of activity. On Saturday morning 20-meters was open to Europe as usual as well as Eastern Canada, and by 1500Z to western Canada as well with lots of Manitoba and Saskatchewan activity. On 15-meter CW, I worked Slovenia, France, and England. While on the band I also worked stations in the W5/6/7/0 call areas, Quebec and Ontario on backscatter, and made contacts into Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia."
Jeff Howington, AD0AK, of Fairfax, Iowa sent this on December 29: "Regarding Al, W1VTP's, inquiry in your 28-December bulletin, the Australian Space Weather Services has a web page at https://bit.ly/2sbceum that might better address his needs. It provides Hourly Area Prediction (HAP) charts containing easy to understand graphical MUF (foF5) data for various locations. Al can select the Boston map from the pull-down list.
“That map typically shows roughly concentric rings centered on Boston that are color coded to indicate the maximum usable frequency a Boston base station should use to reach a mobile at various distances. It's not a stretch to mentally re-center the rings to Al's station in Manchester to give an idea of where his signal will go from that location. Note that these maps are good only for one hour and are refreshed on the hour.
I've used the HAP map centered on Kansas City with good success while running a NVIS net in the Midwest Region. Since nearly all nets are fixed in the frequencies they use, these maps can help select the best times to run the net, and they can also provide information as to which stations can best serve as relays to net control assuming you know their locations."
Check the AD0AK page on QRZ.com for more on Jeff’s interests and work at Collins.
For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL Technical Information Service at http://arrl.org/propagation-of-rf-signals. For an explanation of numbers used in this bulletin, see http://arrl.org/the-sun-the-earth-the-ionosphere.
An archive of past propagation bulletins is at http://arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive-propagation. More good information and tutorials on propagation are at http://k9la.us/.
Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve overseas locations are at http://arrl.org/propagation.
Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are at http://arrl.org/bulletins.
Sunspot numbers for December 27, through January 2, 2019 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 13, and 16, with a mean of 4.1. 10.7 cm flux was 68.5, 69.3, 69, 69.4, 69.3, 71.9, and 75.2, with a mean of 70.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 24, 11, 10, 7, 6, and 2, with a mean of 9.3. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 5, 19, 9, 7, 7, 5, and 1, with a mean of 7.6.