This can be the most interesting and challenging subject – the cause of many discussions worldwide – and challenging conditions can be a huge part of the “sport” of radio.
Currently we are experiencing Sunspot 83 / AR 1166 and the activity on the Sun has already generated some auroral activity which has had an effect on radio propagation. However not everyone is so welcoming of auroral activity when you look at what happened in Quebec on 13 March 1989. As well as possibilities of seeing the fabulous spectre of Aurora Borealis, some “enhanced ” propagation on VHF can enable communication between stations not normally able to contact one another.
For another introduction look at this site which gives a good starting point for examining propagation at H.F. Next time you get a chance just test out how the light/dark transition affects what you can hear – sometimes you can hear certain stations for a very limited time, maybe minutes only, depending on frequency, season, sunspot activity, and the instantaneous grey-line situation, amongst other factors.
Without some kind of propagation none of this game would be possible: for example in space no-one can hear you scream….. NASA have been running a programme called INSPIRE
Not many people know that down below a few hundred hertz there are many fascinating things happening. Listen to the NASA online VLF receiver. These are just some of the natural ELF VLF radio signals generated all the time in our magnetosphere. You could not make up this kind of “music” easily, though Neil Ardley had an attempt with his orchestral “Harmony Of The Spheres”
Someone who takes it all very seriously is Stephen N6NKS and his website is amazing…..
For those of you who want to know what is happening on the air as you read this page right now, this may interest you: just “mouseover” the callsign in the column headed “dx” (means “distant station”) and you will be shown the country identity of the station. Now go and see if you can hear this station on your own radio setup! Better still if you have a transmitter (and licence!) try and contact the station. The column headed “de” (means “from”) shows the radio station who may have heard or contacted the station in the “dx” column.
Amateur Radio is great fun and you make great friends: see you there soon…..