Contributing author Joe Rao of Sky & Telescope Magazine is asking readers to submit reception reports of AM broadcast stations heard during the upcoming August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. The shadow of the moon is expected to cause a depletion in the D region of the ionosphere, thereby reducing ionospheric absorption in the AM broadcast band (540 - 1700 kHz) and allowing for long-distance skywave propagation. This same mechanism allows for long-distance propagation of AM broadcast stations at night. This is an excellent eclipse radio experiment for people who do not have ham radio licenses or access to specialized equipment. For more information, please see Joe's Sky & Telescope article.
Figure: Map of clear channel AM broadcast stations in or near the August 21, 2017 eclipse totality. Eclipse map by Xavier Jubier.
Editor's note: This toolkit can be used to record SDR data to a standard format for scientific use.
MIT Haystack Observatory is pleased to announce the formal open source release of Digital RF version 2.5 under a BSD license. The software implements a data recording format for scientific radio frequency (RF) instrumentation using the HDF5 scientific data format. The implementation is designed for the management of highly time-dependent data from a large number of radio sensors. Applications include radio science (e.g., radio astronomy, geospace radar) and any project requiring the capture and use of RF data as raw digital samples.
The HamSCI team completed a successful weekend presenting at the 2017 Dayton Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. From May 19-21, the HamSCI team ran a booth in the ARRL Expo area where they discussed the HamSCI mission, upcoming experiments, and ways ham radio operators could participate in HamSCI activities. The HamSCI team included members from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, the MIT Haystack Observatory, and Citizen Scientists from the general amateur radio community. This includes the upcoming Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP), participation in the EclipseMob Project, and a live demonstration of both Red Pitaya and Rabbit S-9C based Reverse Beacon Network receive nodes. On Saturday morning, HamSCI presented an ARRL-sponsored forum where members gave oral presentations about HamSCI research and activities. Photos, videos of the presentations, and PDFs of presentation slides are included in this post.
HamSCI member Bill Liles, NQ6Z, won the Best Paper Award at the 15th International Ionospheric Effects Symposium (IES2017) for his paper On the use of solar eclipses to study the ionosphere. IES2017 was held in Alexandria, Virginia from May 9 - 11, 2017 and had the theme "Bridging the gap between applications and research involving ionospheric and space weather disciplines". Bill's paper includes a review of previous eclipse ionospheric findings and an overview of the efforts to study the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Bill's paper is co-authored with Cathryn Mitchell (M0IBG), Mark Cohen, Greg Earle (W4GDE), Nathaniel Frissell (W2NAF), K. Kirby-Patel, Laura Lukes (KK4FYT), Ethan Miller (K8GU), Magda Moses (KM4EGE), J. Nelson, and J. Rockway.
Observable solar eclipses are rare events, and a lot is still unknown about how they interact with earth’s atmosphere. The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse will provide a treasure trove of information, as it will take place across the United States. In order to study the atmosphere during the solar eclipse, NASA is partnering with over 57 teams across the continent to launch balloons that will provide live video of the eclipse. While this looks like an interesting opportunity, it is way too expensive for the average Amateur Radio enthusiast; each team has a budget anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000.
By Dr. Chuck Higgins, Middle Tennessee State University
Radio Jove is a NASA-affiliated education and outreach project that began in 1999 and gives students, teachers, and other interested individuals a hands-on experience in learning radio astronomy (http://radiojove.gsfc.nasa.gov). Radio Jove is a not-for-profit organization, led by a team of about eight volunteer scientists and engineers, which provides a mechanism to distribute radio telescope education kits and educational resources. Participants may build a simple radio telescope kit, make scientific observations, and interact with professional radio observatories in real-time over the Internet. Dedicated observers can help answer science questions about the nature and characteristics of low frequency radio emissions coming from Jupiter and the Sun, as well as, to understand the variability of Earth’s ionosphere. Radio Jove maintains a data archive to facilitate in the exchange of information and the validation of other ground-based and space-based radio data.
Since 1912 there have been many efforts to collect and analyze data during a solar eclipse to help understand the ionosphere. These efforts have been conducted in frequencies ranging from VLF to VHF. In most cases, individuals or small teams have collected data from disparate transmitters.
HamSCI scientists met at the Fall American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco during the week of December 11–17, 2016. The Fall AGU meeting is one of the largest gatherings of geoscientists in the world, with approximately 24,000 people attending. During the meeting, HamSCI scientists presented ham radio-based research, discussed possibilities for upcoming experiments, and networked with members of both the Citizen Science and Space Science Communities.