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The K7RA Solar Update (01/20/2023)

Last week's Propagation Forecast Bulletin ARLP002 opened with "Wow!" I don't know what to say about this week, except it is beyond wow.

This actually has me thinking about Solar Cycle 19.

Lately we have seen solar flux at the same levels we saw at the peak of Solar Cycle 23. If we are about 30 months away from the peak of this Solar Cycle 25, could this get us to the 1957-59 levels last seen in Solar Cycle 19? Stories from that time tell of worldwide coverage 24x7 on 10 meter AM from low power mobile stations.

Average daily sunspot numbers rose from 135.9 to 173.4, while average solar flux went to 221.8 from 181.2. Yesterday the thrice daily solar flux reported from the Penticton, British Columbia observatory indicated rising solar flux at 224.6, 226.1 and 230.1. These are recorded at 1800, 2000 and 2200 UTC. It is the middle number, at local noon, that is recorded as the official number for the day.

From "If sunspot production continues apace for the rest of January, the monthly sunspot number will reach a 20-year high."

Average planetary A index increased from 6.7 to 13.9,

On January 15 the planetary A index reached a peak of 30, a very high value indicating a geomagnetic storm. Conditions were stormy throughout the week, due to flares and CMEs. On that day in Fairbanks, Alaska the college A index was 53, a very high number. There was a large polar cap absorption event.

Nine new sunspot groups appeared during this reporting week, January 12-18. One on January 12, four on January 13, two more on January 15, and two more, one each on January 17 and 18.

Predicted solar flux is 220 on January 20-21, 215 on January 22-23, 210 on January 24-25, 215 on January 26-27, 185 on January 28-29, 190 on January 30 through February 2, 195 and 200 on February 3-4, 205 on February 5-6, 210 on February 7-11, then a big jump to 235 and 230 on February 12-13, 225 on February 14-16, 220 on February 17, then 215 on February 18-19, 210 and 200 on February 20-21, 190 on February 22-23, and 185 on February 24-25. Solar flux is expected to rise above 200 again in the first week of March.

Predicted planetary A index is 15, 12 and 8 on January 20-22, 5 on January 23-24, then 12, 10, 12 and 8 on January 25-28, 5 on January 29 through 31, then 12 and 8 on February 1-2, 5 on February 3-6, then 12, 12, 15 and 12 on February 7-10, 5 on February 11-13, then 8, 15, 10 and 7 on February 14-17, 5 on February 18-20, then 7, 18, 10 and 7 on February 21-24, 5 on February 25-26, then 7, 18, 12 and 8 on February 27 through March 2.

OK1HH wrote:

"Large sunspot groups on the Sun's far side, detected by helioseismology at the beginning of this year, showed the region of active heliographic longitude gradually approached the eastern limb of the solar disk. Solar activity increased after their arrival.

"Solar flux rose from 146 on January 2 to 195 on January 11. Yet one solar revolution back (December 15) it was only 166 and two turns back (November 18) only 116.

"The January 6 prediction of increasing activity was brilliantly confirmed, especially by a large X-class flare in AR3182 with a maximum at 0057 UTC.

"Surprisingly, it did not produce a CME - the ejected particles never left the Sun.

"In the following days, the activity of AR3182 was joined by the newly erupted AR3184, again in the southeast of the solar disk. An X-class flare was observed there as well (X1.9 on January 9 1850 UTC). Most of the large flares in the last few days occurred during nighttime in Europe. Blackouts up to 30 MHz were recorded, especially by stations in and around the Pacific. It was not until the eruption on January 9 that a shortwave blackout was seen in the western Atlantic, including the East Coast of the U.S. On January 10, the Sun produced another X-class eruption, from new sunspot group AR3186.

"As active regions approached the central meridian, the probability of Earth being hit by particles from possible CMEs increases, or more importantly the Earth's magnetic field activity increases, MUF levels decrease, and the evolution of shortwave propagation gradually worsens, especially during disturbances that are difficult to predict accurately."

Sam, KY8R commented on 30 meter propagation:

"Reading your report it looks good, but I have to tell you 30M is like a dead horse in the Sonoran Desert."

I replied:

"On FT8 and I make many contacts on 30 meters, but it seems to be best around sunrise or sunset, before and after.

"I just did a prediction with W6ELprop and it shows 30 meters from my location (CN87) open during daylight hours to the East Coast, and to Texas 24x7 with brief dropouts at 7am local here (1500 UTC) and 10:30 PM (0630 UTC).

"From your location, it looks different. To Texas it fades starting at 0200 UTC and stays dead until 1400 UTC and is strongest at 1500 and 2330 UTC.

"To Atlanta from DM33 (you) it is weakest from 1700-2100 UTC. Of course, these are statistical approximations."

Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW in Easton, Pennsylvania FN20jq is having fun on 10 meter FM.

"Today (January 19) I made a 2-way QSO with John, AL7ID in Fairbanks for five minutes from 2028-2033 UTC on the 29.6 MHz national calling frequency, then QSY 29.5 FM.

"I just barely heard him mention the QSY to 29.5.

"Initially he was 2x2 QSB, then minutes later 3x4 QSB.

"The FM signal was spreading apart due to F2 propagation and made it difficult at times.

"He was my first Alaska 10-meter FM simplex contact!"

Mike has a YouTube video of both his Alaska QSO, and another with Argentina:

Earlier, Mike reported:

"On Tuesday, January 17th, 29.6 MHz FM went active with multi-hop sporadic-E or F2 propagation into France, United Kingdom, Mexico, Alaska, and Argentina into the northeast USA.

"Readability ranged from unreadable to practically no difficulty, Strength ranged from faint - signals barely perceptible to fair signals. All the signals had light QSB.

"UTC: Callsign: Grid:

1544 F5SDD JN23qf

1617 G4RIE IO83rn

1803 XE2LVM DL92dp

2040 AL7ID BP64ku

2040 LU1HJS FF79XX"

Jon Jones, N0JK reported:

"Some interesting 6 meter propagation on January 16.

"First, there appeared to be a 6 meter F2 opening between Puerto Rico and Colorado that morning. K0RI in DM78 and NO0T/P in DN70 spotted KP4AJ in FK68 around 1550 UTC on 6 meter FT8. No intermediate stations spotted. The 10.7 cm solar flux was reported

to be 234. [Jon had probably not seen the updated flux for that day yet. It was actually 228.1 and 234.3 the day before.]

"Later there was sporadic-E from Kansas to Mexico. I logged XE2JS in DL68 at 1605 UTC. He was very strong.

"That afternoon the TN8K DXpedition to the Congo Republic worked PJ4MM, V26OC, and FG8OJ on 6 meter FT8 via F-layer propagation around 2230 UTC.

"The ARRL January VHF contest is this weekend. There is a possibility of sporadic-E and even some F2 on 6 meters in this contest."

Later Jon reported a 6 meter contact with Mexico.

Sunspots in the news:

Sky & Telescope with an article on giant sunspot group AR3190:

An article on 11 year, 100 year, and 2300 year cycles:

Here is the latest report from Dr. Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW:

Send your tips, reports, observations, questions and comments to

For more information concerning shortwave radio propagation, see and the ARRL Technical Information Service at . For an explanation of numbers used in this bulletin, see .

An archive of past propagation bulletins is at . More good information and tutorials on propagation are at .

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are at .

Sunspot numbers January 12 through 18, 2023 were 151, 181, 170, 177, 186, 185, and 164, with a mean of 173.4. 10.7 cm flux was 211.6, 208.5, 227.8, 234.3, 228.1, 221.7, and 220.3, with a mean of 221.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 9, 12, 11, 30, 14, 6, and 15,

with a mean of 13.9. Middle latitude A index was 8, 10, 9, 17, 10, 5, and 11, with a mean of 10.


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