The Leonids shower peaked around 17 November, but I found 16 November most active. Then of course as 18 and 19 fell on Saturday and Sunday, those days looked pretty good. Weekends always make the propagation look better.
I was fairly busy with other things but I managed this:-
|4m and 6m Meteor Scatter contacts at GM4FVM 10 to 24 November|
Well, that map is not quite what it seems. The contact into Croatia (9A2DI) sounded more like Es than meteor scatter. At that time, 17:20 on 21 November, my 10m WSPR station was receiving hits from the South East.
|10m WSPR spots at GM4FVM, 21 November|
|GOES X-ray flux graph 19 to 21 November|
Despite hearing 9A2DI for over 45 minutes, with a strong Es signal, nobody else seemed to be workable from here. Various stations were posting "Es" as the means of making MSK144 contacts but MSK is not very useful on Es - 9A2DI was filling my waterfall. Switching to FT8 I got no response and saw no stations. Es events like this are often very localised, but I cannot help thinking that at 17:20, in November, near the bottom of the sunspot cycle, there just were not many stations around on 6m from the Balkans region.
Anyway, 9A2DI worked quite a few stations in "these islands", so at least there were a few operators around from near me.
This looks like a classic "disturbed geo-magnetic conditions short of an aurora" type brief opening. No surprise to me as I have been banging on about these openings for years. Or "pre-auroral enhancement" if you prefer that expression.
I suspect that those X-ray figures are not quite the full picture. I might have expected most of the X-rays to arrive at the same time as the coronal hole was visible facing the Earth, which the SolarHam photo shows was 18 November. In fact the enhancement occurred when the solar wind speed rose, which was 21 November. However, I suppose that X-rays can result from the activity in the material contained in the enhanced solar wind. Or the X-rays are just a consequence of the arrival of the material effects of the coronal hole.
Even though the X-ray figure works as a sign of the opening, I would expect measures of increased arriving protons and electrons would give a better sign. This is something which needs more investigation (by me at least).
My own take on what is happening is that the ionosphere is energised by the arriving particles (and the associated X-rays show up on the graphs) and that is enough to push a small area of the E layer into providing Es propagation. This event is obviously a lot less energetic than the full sunlight would be, so the area of ionisation is smaller and fairly short lived, making the propagation very localised. Mind you, 45 minutes is surprisingly long for a winter Es event. Also that was propagation at 50MHz.
Many of these short lived Winter Es openings (no doubt they occur in Summer but we don't notice them amongst generalised Es) only show up here up to the 10m band. It was nice to see one at 50MHz for a change.
Frustrating, watching Es on MSK144 where only one station can be received at a time, especially after you have worked the one station and he then fills your receiver. Still, I could watch it on 10m WSPR.
So perhaps my map of contacts during the Leonids needs to be qualified by saying that working 9A2DI was really Es.
I like exploiting these short openings. You need to put in the hours but they are there to be found. It is another part of amateur radio which proves the old adage "Amateur radio is for life, not just for Christmas". You can treat yourself to a shiny new rig, but to get the best out of radio you have to do the work.
I was interested to read recently, on the ARRL site, mention of a new breed of amateur who uses amateur radio to pursue their interests in computing and propagation. This might be fine but it seemed to worry them that there new amateurs are not interested in circuit diagrams or drilling boxes to fit switches.
I am beginning to realise that I am not a "proper" amateur at all. Even though I was licensed over 40 years ago, I can now see that I am one of these "new" amateurs.
Eh? The first of the new wave? Not my style.
Switching from reading soldery old Practical Wireless to irreverent Radio User seems to be sign that I have decided to "come out" as a new amateur. Not that many of the readers of Practical Wireless ever bothered to make any of the circuits mentioned there, but there seems to be some need to keep up the pretence that lots of us build our own rigs. We don't. Or at least I don't, I never have, and I never will.
Radio User is probably only 50% relevant to what I do. On the other hand, Practical Wireless was about 30% relevant to what I do, and getting less so all the time. Of course, I still take the RSGB's impressive organ, "RadComm", which I will not risk assessing in percentage terms. Lets just say that "news" to me should be about radio, not about administration. The fact that some old duffer has been a member for 70 years is not really as newsworthy to me as short durations Es openings, which they never mention anyway.
Radio User now has Tomas Hood, NW7US as their new columnist for propagation. His first article has the modest title "Space Weather, the Sun-Earth Connection and Radio Propagation", which is fairly wide subject area. I suspect this is to get us up to speed for what comes next. It is really a pretty good article. I hope that he continues in a similar vein.