Ham radio in the news
A quick summary of what is happening in amateur radio
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• Solar superstorm could be on the way - I usually try to vary my topics from month to month but my February reflection on the aurora brought in a couple of intriguing queries from readers.
One was about "the Carrington Event" and what effect, if any, the recurrence of such a phenomenon would have on the modern world. The other was sparked by a US newspaper headline from last year proclaiming, in very large letters, "NASA warning of solar superstorm in 2012".
The two are closely related in that the Carrington Event, named after the British astronomer who made scientific observations of it, was arguably the greatest solar outburst of recent history. The flare, a great mass of hot plasma unleashed by a giant sunspot on August 28, 1959, caused an extraordinary display of auroral activity which was visible not just in the high latitudes but as far south as the Gulf of Mexico in the Americas and over Mediterranean areas in the old world.
• Ham radio operators check in to the Battleship - The Battleship North Carolina is used to getting visitors from all over the world. But today, some of those visitors visited the ship through the airwaves. Sunday was North Carolina's QSO Party. QSO is code that amateur radio operators use when they've made contact with someone else. The battleship is one of four locations across the state where people who successfully QSO them can get extra points.
Each week a different state has a QSO party and this weekend, ham radio operators from every North Carolina county participated. "The possibility of potential is worldwide," said Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club member Allan Pellnat.
That he said is part because sunspot activity helps to increase the ability for radios to communicate with each other across the globe. He said they may hear from people from as far away as Europe and Africa.
• The ARRL International DX Contest Gears Up for SSB: - With the CW portion of the ARRL International DX Contest now a series of fading dits and dahs in the memories of participants, preparations for the SSB portion of the DX Contest -- the SSB weekend are already underway.
According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, for this contest, stations in the US and Canada work only DX stations, and DX stations work only the US and Canada; Alaska and Hawaii are considered DX for this contest. DX stations will be trying to make QSOs with all US states and Canadian provinces. The contest exchange is simple: US and Canadian stations send a signal report and their state or province, while DX stations send a signal report and the amount of power they are transmitting with.
• NASA: Spike in Sun's activity produces five eruptions in 2 days - The Sun has been very active in the last week. NASA scientists say our star flared up producing five major eruptions in two days that generated spectacular northern lights displays over the weekend. NASA scientists say the solar flares which burst from nearly all areas of the Sun occurred between February 23 and 24, and came from "top, bottom, left and right sides of the solar disk."
According to NASA, four of the five flares occurred within a time-span of 24 hours.
NASA reports that one of the eruptions was a "large snaking" magnetic filament that erupted on February 24 and triggered a first of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the direction of the Earth. According to NASA, scientists at the Goddard Space Weather Lab predicted from analysis conducted that the CME cloud would strike the Earth's magnetic field on February 26, 2012 at about 8:30am EST (+/- 7 hr).
• High school sends balloon to edge of space - A high altitude balloon launched by the amateur radio club at Mt. Carmel High School rose more than 100,000 feet high above the Salton Sea.
A high-altitude weather balloon jammed with cameras rose far, far higher than jets fly over the weekend, traveling to the edge of space during a journey that thrilled its "pilots" back at San Diego's Mt. Carmel High School.
The $90 balloon was sent aloft Saturday by the school's Amateur Radio Club, which tracked it to a point more than 100,000 feet high. The journey lasted 2 hours and 41 minutes, ending when the balloon landed east of the Ocotillo Wells airport. It was recovered by dirt bikers, who declined a $100 reward. "This was a huge success for our students! We are already planning our next project," said John Earnest, the physics teacher who serves as the advisor to the Amateur Radio Club.
• Nominations for ARRL Awards Now Open - Each year, the ARRL Board of Directors has the opportunity to select recipients for a number of awards in various categories that honor Amateur Radio operators. The nomination period is now open for the ARRL awards that are designed to recognize educational and technological pursuits in Amateur Radio, as well as an award to honor a young Amateur Radio operator.
The Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year Award will be awarded to an ARRL volunteer Amateur Radio instructor or to an ARRL professional classroom teacher who uses creative instructional approaches and models the highest values of the Amateur Radio community; nominees must be ARRL members. The award has been focused to reflect quality of instruction and commitment to licensing instruction. Nominations should be received by March 15, 2012, to be considered for this year.
The Hiram Percy Maxim Award is for a licensed radio amateur under age 21 whose accomplishments and contributions are of the most exemplary nature within the framework of Amateur Radio activities; nominees must be ARRL members. Nominations for this award need to be made through your Section Manaer, who will then forward the nomination to ARRL Headquarters by March 31, 2012.
The ARRL Microwave Development Award is presented to a licensed radio amateur or to individuals who are licensed radio amateurs who contribute to the development of the Amateur Radio microwave bands. The nomination deadline is March 31, 2012.
The ARRL Technical Service Award recognizes a licensed radio amateur or individuals who are licensed radio amateurs who provide Amateur Radio technical assistance or training to others. The nomination deadline is March 31, 2012.
The ARRL Technical Innovation Award is granted to a licensed radio amateur or to individuals who are licensed radio amateurs who develop and apply new technical ideas or techniques in Amateur Radio. The nomination deadline is March 31, 2012.
The Knight Distinguished Service Award: The ARRL Board of Directors established the Knight Distinguished Service Award to recognize exceptionally notable contributions made by a Section Manager that contribute to the health and vitality of the League. The first such award was presented to Joe T. Knight, W5PDY, for whom the award was named. He was commended for his exemplary service not only as the ARRL.