Category Archives: General

Here We Go Again

An almost spotless Sun and you just know 15 and 20 meter HF propagation is going down the tubes again.  Here’s hoping the bottom of the solar cycle does not last as long as the last time.

The peak of the solar cycle wasn’t much to write home about either, just my opinion.  Oh sure we had our good periods but all in all not so good.  Funny too because the “forecasts” were for the peak to be HUGE with off the chart solar storm etc.  Didn’t happen.  I know I watch closely being an Amateur Radio operator (one who LOVES 15 meter QRP CW).

sundiskblank

The original caption released with this SDO image:
This week the sun was hitting its lowest level of solar activity since 2011 (Nov. 14-18, 2016) as it gradually marches toward solar minimum. This activity is usually measured by sunspot count and over the past several days the sun has been almost spotless. The sun has a pendulum-like pattern of solar cycle of activity that extends over about an 11-year period. The last peak of activity was in early 2014. At this point in time, the sunspot numbers seem to be sliding downwards faster than expected, though the solar minimum level should not occur until 2021. No doubt more and larger sunspots will inevitably appear, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Credit: SDO/NASA

 

Pumpkin Shaped Stars

NASA’s Kepler and Swift missions have allowed astronomers to discover a group of rapidly spinning stars that produce X-rays at more than 100 times the peak levels ever seen from the sun. These stars spin so fast the equatorial region to bulges out and the polar regions to flatten, making them look more or less like a pumpkin. Hey it’s Halloween and scientists are typically a good natured lot.

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Preparing For Launch

Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA along with their backups, Alexander Misurkin and Nikolai Tikhonov of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA are the group comprising the crew of ISS Expedition 49-50.

The group are actively preparing for launch at the Soyuz MS-02 to the International Space Station on 19 October from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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Hurricane Matthew – KSC Update

It looks like Kennedy Space Center is right in the path of Matthew. Good luck!

Update from Kennedy Space Center at 19:17 UTC 15:17 EDT:
The wind conditions at Kennedy Space Center have dropped below 40 knots and preliminary damage assessments are under way. KSC is now in a “Weather Safe” condition as of 2 p.m. Friday. While there is damage to numerous facilities at KSC, it consists largely roof damage, window damage, water intrusion, damage to modular buildings and to building siding. There does not appear to be damage to flight hardware at this time. The Damage Assessment and Recovery team will undertake more detailed inspection on Saturday and will enter all facilities. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed on Saturday and will reopen on Sunday. Based on the damage assessment, the return to work status for KSC employees will be determined Saturday afternoon.

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September Equinox 2016

timeanddateEQINOX

The September equinox arrives/arrived at 14:21 UTC. or 10:21 EDT.  Autumn in the north and spring in the south.

The image here came from timeanddate.com and is a good depiction of what is going on:  Today at 14:21 UTC the equator of the Earth is pointed right at the center of the sun.  As the Earth travels in its orbit the position of the Sun with respect to the equator changes.  In September the tilt is such that the center of the Sun is moving south.  By late December the Earth has moved sufficiently in orbit the apparent movement stops (the December solstice) and starts going back north.

 

Happy Solstice!

summersolsctice

A little déjà vu? By the way the moon is full today too and this is known as the Strawberry Moon, not for any color, rather the beginning of Strawberry season in the north.

Today the Sun reaches its most northern point in the sky in the northern hemisphere and the lowest in the southern hemisphere.

Put another way,  for the northern hemisphere: the June solstice is when the subsolar point or that point where the sun is perceived to be directly over head, is at the northern most latitude it will attain before due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis and is on the Tropic of Cancer (23.44 deg). After the June Solstice the Sun will day by day become lower in the northern sky until the December solstice when it rises to its lowest point of the year.

The southern hemisphere experiences the opposite, so today the Sun is at its lowest point and after today will gradually reach higher in sky until the December solstice.

The moment of the June Solstice occurs today at 22:34 UTC.  US Naval Observatory.

More at:  timeanddate.com

My typical June solstice tradition is to take a nice long walk at sunrise, heavy rain made me skip the walk.

#SummerSolstice

Image: Creative Commons

Happy Towel Day!

toweldaypixHappy what-day?  Towel day, it is a tribute to Douglas Adams. The image is Towel Day 2005 in the lovely Innsbruck, Austria, where Adams got the inspiration to write the Guide.

There is much to do, at least there are options – check out towelday.org

I will be on a twenty-meter lift today and you can bet I’ll have a towel with me.

From the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)