Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Flares, solar rotation, and licenses

After several really late nights in a row, I crashed pretty early last night. It is funny how sometimes you go to bed with a problem on your mind and wake up with the answer. There were bugs in the log processing software that I’ve been working on (you can see it on the DXpedition website) and I was puzzled by some of its behavior. I went to bed thinking about it; I woke up this morning with the solution. It’s weird how that works.
Tonight I sat down at the computer and looked at the code to see if my analysis was correct. Sure enough, the problems were right were I thought they would be. Sleep walking is called somnambulism. I wonder what sleep programming is called?
This software still needs a lot of testing before we can rely on it while on Montserrat. But, I do feel good that the framework is in place.
While on the island I plan to do lots of video taping and audio capture so I can make a DVD of my trip. It won’t be anything as slick as the ones put out by dxvideos, but it should be fun to make, and hopefully fun to watch. I’ve created smaller movies in the past with Adobe Premiere and iMovie, but this will be more then just home videos or 3 minute short films. I hope to have enough (interesting) material for a full one hour production. If I manage this, my 100 Pound DXpedition talks might be a little more exciting than just me with a slide show.
If you visited spaceweather.com today you may have noticed that the Sun emitted a major flare. Luckily, the flair was not directed towards the Earth or HF would have been affected, probably severely. This reminds me of something that we should be watching: the Sun rotates once every 27 days or so from our perspective on the Earth. So, whatever is going on today may also be happening 27 days from today. For example, the sunspot (number 930) that spewed that flair today will be roughly in that position again in 27 days.
I leave for Orlando on Sunday, January 28th and then for Monsterrat the next day, Monday, January 29th. You can bet that I’ll be paying lots of attention to solar activity 27 days prior to those days (January 1st and 2nd). If conditions are nice and quiet just after the first of the year, chances are they’ll be nice for our trip, too. If conditions are a little wild, with flares and CMEs, HF might be tough 27 days later.
This stuff isn’t a 100% accurate predictor, but it does give you some idea of what might happen. The great thing about stuff like this is you can go back and review historical data to see how these 27 day cycles relate to HF propagation. I find it fascinating!
One last note, and this is a big one, the last two licenses were issued today. Hooray! The good fellow in the licensing office on Montserrat heard that we were getting nervous up here and he made a special effort to email me with electronic copies of the license. That was really nice of him! So, we have flights, we have our villa rented, we have licenses. All that’s left is to plan, pack, and go. I don’t think I can fully convey how excited I am!


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