Monday, October 18, 2010

Finally, after an age, the sunspot cycle starts to excite amateurs

For a while there in 2009 and early 2010 it seemed as if the sun had gone into sleep mode. Or worse, shutdown mode. After a good sunsport Cycle 23, it looked to all intents and purposes as if Cycle 24 was never going to arrive. 2009 was one of the poorest years on record for sunspots, with a total of 260 days (71% of the year) without any sunspots whatsover.

This of course is bad news for radio amateurs, who rely on sunspot activity and the associated interaction of solar material with earth's upper atmosphere, for decent propagation on the bands. I was licenced in October 2009, right in the depths of this awful depression. Not that it was a complete disaster for me or anything. I was working decent DX throughout the low period, but very little of it on 10m and 12m where one could expect gerat DX in the "good times" with 10 watts of RF through a string of wet spaghetti strung from the back of the rig.

But, as the song goes, "Times, they are a changin'". Right now the sunspot number is 61. What we would have done to see figures like that a year ago! If the sun could be bribed into life, every amateur on the planet would have had his or her hand in their pocket, reaching for the wallet! But put your money away for now. The sun is coming to life of its own accord, without financial reward. Only 45 days of 2010 (16%) have been without sunspots.

At this moment in time, there are four different groups of sunspots, 1112, 1113, 1115 and 1116, of which 1112 seems the most active right now. The solar flux index (SFU) is at 84, and hopefully rising. When it goes up into the 90s, and especially close to 100, watch for the good DX on the higher frequency bands, especially 12 and 10 metres.


  1. Hi Anthony, excellent news, I am noticing it already, plus with the extra power and the M0 looming in November should help as well.

    73 Paul.

  2. Good stuff Paul. Congrats on the licence! I look forward to working you on 10 metres when the lift comes!!

  3. Yes Anthony it is great news I too was checking out the prop info and was happy to see the sunspots on the rise big time. Now the SFI should start to rise as well.

  4. THere's a lot going on there over the past few days on the sun. However, today's sunspots are "quiet", ie not crackling with flares, and the Solar Flux has gone down again. Let's hope there are better things to come! Interestingly I'm up to 44 countries on 12m and rising by the day!


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