Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Aurora +++

Well, St Patrick's Day 2015 is not over here yet, and I am taking a few minutes out to reflect on "the day that was in it".

The aurora I speculated on did indeed arrive. Nothing visible as it was cloudy and misty, dreich as they say round here.

I am posting below the 10m WSPR waterfall during the height of the event. Note the spread out smudged traces and the snow effects. Others on lower bands reported very wide traces.

On VHF it started by me hearing the 2m Ballycastle beacon GB3NGI go auroral. It is only about 270km from me, and I can hear it T5 if I beam at it. But I was hearing it distorted, beaming at 50 degrees (East of North East) whereas it is West of me. Yes, 270km, but the signal is travelling via the auroral curtain somewhere over the Artic Circle.

As the 2m stations were pretty distorted, and right now I do not have a 6m antenna ($£%&***&), the only place to be was 4m. Business as usual there then. I started on 70.200, and worked OZ3ZW at at 14:20. We had to have two goes at it as he could not copy my callsign through the auroral distortion. After that I worked most of the time up until 17:50, moving down to 70.194 and even 70.180 at times to escape the pack of stations.

I worked 44 stations, though I had to take a break at about 17:00 as I had gone hoarse. They were from G, GM, GW, PA, ON, OZ, LA and EI. I worked 6 new squares, two in Denmark, two in Ireland and two in England. Signals were very strong. As is usually the case, the 4m signals were a lot less distorted than the 2m ones.

All the QSOs were nice of course, but a couple were really nice. Working Henning OZ1JXY is always a pleasure, and it took less than our usual 30 minutes meteor scatter contact. ON4ADI called me on CW and I had a lovely contact with him. I did not subject him to my ropey morse, but I enjoyed his careful, accurate and perfectly timed code. There were many old friends amongst the list, but I just had to plough on and keep working them. At one stage I had a pileup and I am sorry if I missed anyone. I know that Jaap PA0O heard me, and I think I heard him at one stage in the pileup, so sorry if I missed you. I only worked one GM - Andy GM4JR.

That was a classic VHF opening. You work your socks off and then it is over. Suddenly it is there, and just as suddenly it is gone. But it did not really end at 17:50, as the Kp index, which was 8, fell to about 6 and now at 22:30 it is back to 8 again. I can hear CW with AU tone on 70.200 but too low to copy.

At one stage this afternoon I tuned round and I could hear all of the UK beacons and EI4RF via Aurora, with the single exception of the Tring one. I also heard GM8RBR's personal beacon, a favourite of mine. Even now at 22:30 I can still hear auroral tones from GB3CFG in Carrickfergus on 4m and GB3NGI on the Antrim Plateau on 2m. So the aurora is over, as suddenly as it came, and welcome to the second aurora of the day.

Thanks everyone for a great night.


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