IOTA OC-221 - M0OXO IOTA #525

423607_10150610971166918_747121917_9187548_867980598_nSecond new IOTA in the same day, that's rare for me nowadays thats for sure!

Thanks to the guys on Kai Island IOTA OC-221 in Moluccas, Indonesia. YB8Y was another one  logged with difficulty but after 90 minutes of frustration he was logged on 15M SSB. That's the pressure off now number #525 is in the log so may find him again on another slot in the coming days.

They have several stations on air at the same time so good planning and lets hope the DX continues in the run up to WPX this weekend!

IOTA AS-175 - M0OXO IOTA #524

QRZ_spash_1_Early morning DX? Well its not been too good for me of late. Either thro lack of enthusiasm, Qsl work or Band conditions I certainly haven't logged too much.

This morning I had a trawl and after a quick heads up from Tim M0URX I switched on to hear A35YZ on 17M SSB. He was very strong in fact, he was so strong we didnt think it was genuine. Well it was and with a split of 15 wide I bagged him second call with 200w barefoot (TS480HX), amazing. Thats only the second slot for him but happy for the new band.

Several others eluded me this morning but with a few JA on 15M RTTY it was better than nowt. The best of the bunch was around 1000UTC with AT2DW on Bet Shankhodhar Island aka Bet Dwarka, Gujarat, India. IOTA AS-175 was a new one for me and despite his weak signal on 12m RTTY, I chose my split and worked him after about 10 minutes calling (100w FT1K).

Thanks for the new one M0OXO IOTA #524 ;-)

CDXC Dinner 2012, an enjoyable event...

K800_DSC_2928Last weekend, 17th March 2012, saw the annual CDXC (Chiltern DX Club) dinner. This is where members of the CDXC get together at Wyboston Lakes hotel in the Cambridgeshire countryside for a few beers, a meal and a good exchange of 'war stories' lol. This years social event went down very well and the boys from SHDXCG had a good attendance..

Rob (MW0RLJ), and Ant (MW0JZE) are travelled up from West Wales, I drove down from from Yorkshire, Tim (M0URX) and Chris (G1VDP) attended from the Midlands, and Tony (G4LDL) along with his wife Glenys drove from their home in Swindon. Tony has to be there of course as he is the current secretary of the CDXC and has organised this prestigious event.

It was a great catch up and despite speaking daily, it's always good to get together and have a good old rag chew with many of the faces that you don't really see too often and may only speak to Island to Island hi.......and didn't our blue shirts cause a stir!

Next event for us is Debbie and my Silver Wedding in April, next stop Pembrokeshire chez MW0RLJ!

CME Impact

queenstown_stripAs expected, the flank of a CME hit Earth's magnetic field yesterday on March 15th at around 1300 UTC.

The impact sparked a moderate (Kp=6) geomagnetic storm with perfect timing for sky watchers in New Zealand.
"The CME arrived at 2 o'clock in the morning here in Queenstown," says photographer Minoru Yoneto. In the dark, he drove to his favorite spot on a mountain overlooking the city and recorded the storm:

The storm is subsiding now. Nevertheless, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as the wake of the CME continues to buffet Earth's magnetic field.

Nice propagation for BERU

ZD7XF_QSLIt was a nice surprise to find the higher bands open again this weekend which was good for several contests on air not least BERU.

Beru is the only event where British Commonwealth Countries have to work each other.
This however does not deter all Europe calling and despite the sometimes frantic ''Only UK'' comments by the operators, they never cease their calling. Maybe no-one checks the Contest Rules anymore ;-)

Anyway none the less I had a couple of hours tuning around (mainly 10 metres) hoping for several new Band Slots and I wasn't disappointed!

Nigel (G3TXF) as ZD7XF
(continuing his highly successful DXped. in ZD7) was the first in the log at 1308UTC and here are are few others I worked (new slots in blue) and on which Band;

ZD7XF (10m), ZS1BB (10m), 9J2BO (10m), 9H1XT (10m), ZS6KR (10m), VO1HP (10m), C56XA (10m), VP9/G3PJT (10m), ZF2LC (10m), J88DR (10m), J39BZ (10m), 5H3EE (10m), ZS1EL (10m), VO1TA (10m), 6Y0A (10m), ZB2EO (15m), ZF1UM (15m), 6Y0A (15m), VK3TDX (15m).

All contacts running barefoot (200w TS480HX) into 6 Band wire hexbeam by MW0JZE. Russian DX Contest next weekend and WPX following the week after.

CM5FZ Qsl Cards arrived and being issued...


Huge Sunspot...

sunspotsunset_stripActive sunspot AR1429 continues to grow. It is now more than seven times wider than Earth, which makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. In fact, yesterday, David Tremblay of Alto, New Mexico, saw it using no telescope at all. All he needed was a dust storm:

"The dust blowing from Tularosa Basin was so dense, we could observe the sun with the naked eye--and there was sunspot AR1429. Wow!" says Tremblay.

The behemoth spot has unleashed four strong flares since it emerged on the 2nd March, including the X5-class eruption on the 7th  March. More could be in the offing. The active region has a "beta-gamma-delta" class magnetic field that harbors energy for additional X-class eruptions.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) ''Worlds Largest Telescope''

square-km-array-100928-02If there are space invaders out there, it won’t be long before they can no longer stage a sneak attack, thanks to a project to build the most sensitive radio telescope ever -- one that’s the size of a continent.

Known as The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), it will explore the universe, identify any potential alien threats to our planet and hopefully answer some fundamental questions from astronomers. Its thousands of receptors, spaced roughly one kilometer apart, will be linked across an entire continent.

They’ll be arranged in five spiral arms like a galaxy, 3,000 50-foot-wide dishes that extend out from a central core at least 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometers).

Amazing aurora light show


Amazing aurora light show above Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland yesterday (8th March).

This was captured by Jónína Óskarsdóttir, who said that, “No words can describe the experience of the northern lights show tonight.”

The exposure time for the photo was 1 second.

Space Storm Could Hit GPS Systems And Flights

x5_stripThe biggest space weather storm in five years is heading towards Earth and could disrupt power grids, GPS systems, satellites and airline flights, Nasa has warned.

In a statement on its website, the US space agency said the storm was caused by two solar flares that erupted on Sunday. Following the flares, two bursts of solar wind and plasma - known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) - were thrust towards Earth. This eruption hurled a bright CME into space, shown here in a movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

"The first is traveling faster than 1,300 miles per second; the second more than 1,100 miles per second," the statement added.

The brunt of the storm is expected to last until Friday.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station could also be affected by the radiation storm, which may cause them to seek shelter in better protected parts of the orbiting lab as they have in the past.

"Flight surgeons in Houston's mission control centre have been monitoring the solar activity and will continue to do so," Nasa spokesman Mike Curie said.

"They have determined that there presently is no concern for the six crew members aboard the International Space Station."

Space storms are not new. The first major solar flare was recorded by British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859.

Other solar geomagnetic storms have been observed in recent decades. One huge solar flare in 1972 cut off long-distance telephone communication in the US state of Illinois.

Queens Jubilee Qsl orders begin....

Well with the NOV's now available from OFCOM, it looks like the Queens Jubilee and the Olympic Games special event stations will be choking the HF Bands (lets hope!).

Several Qsl card orders have now been made from Gennady UX5UO (via me) and the special low costs and batch sizes are proving popular. As well as the normal 1000 card price he now offers the cards in batches of 500, 250 and 100pc's for most of the styles he produces.

If you want advice or information please contact M0OXO or UX5UO.

Flying through a Geomagnetic Storm

image_full_-_CopyGlowing green and red, shimmering hypnotically across the night sky, the aurora borealis is a wonder to behold.  Longtime sky watchers say it is the greatest show on Earth.

It might be the greatest show in Earth orbit, too. High above our planet, astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been enjoying an up-close view of auroras outside their windows as the ISS flys through geomagnetic storms.

Lately, the International Space Station has been flying through geomagnetic storms, giving astronauts an close-up view of the aurora borealis just outside their windows.

Auroras are caused by solar activity.  Gusts of solar wind and coronal mass ejections strike Earth’s magnetic field, rattling our planet’s protective shell of magnetism. This causes charged particles to rain down over the poles, lighting up the atmosphere where they hit.  The physics is akin to what happens in the picture tube of a color TV.

Incoming particles are guided by Earth’s magnetic field to a pair of doughnut-shaped regions called “auroral ovals.”  There’s one around the North Pole and one around the South Pole.  Sometimes, when solar activity is high, the ovals expand, and the space station orbits right through them.

That’s exactly what happened in late January 2012, when a sequence of M-class and X-class solar flares sparked a light show that Pettit says he won’t soon forget. “The auroras could be seen as brightly as city lights on the Earth below--and even in the day-night terminator of the rising and setting sun. It was simply amazing.”

The videos capture the full range of aurora colors—red, green, and many shades of purple.  These hues correspond to different quantum transitions in excited atoms of oxygen and nitrogen.  The precise color at any altitude depends on the temperature and density of the local atmosphere.

World’s tallest self-supporting communications tower

Construction of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest self-supporting communications tower, is set to finish Wednesday, two months late because of the quake and tsunami that struck Japan last March.

Tourist bosses in the country hope the tower will be a big draw for foreign visitors, whose numbers have plummeted in the aftermath of the disaster and the nuclear crisis it sparked.

Construction of the 634-metre (2080-foot) tower near the already popular Asakusa traditional district on Tokyo’s eastern side, began in July 2008. The Tokyo Sky Tree tops the 600-metre Canton Tower in China’s Guangzhou and the 553-metre CN Tower in downtown Toronto.

Some 580,000 construction workers were engaged in the construction, which cost 65 billion yen ($806 million) for the tower alone, the spokeswoman said.

The Tokyo Sky Tree is expected to overshadow landmarks in the capital’s upscale western parts, including the 333-metre Tokyo Tower, which was built in 1958 and became a byword in Japan for the country’s rapid post-war growth.

First Boeing 747-8 now delivered.....

800px-Boeing_747-8_first_flight_Everett_WAThe first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental has been delivered to Qatar Amiri Flight today (28th February 2012.

The aircraft, tail number A7-HHE, left Paine Field in Everett Washington at midday PST and is probably going to Hamburg to be fitted out.

The Boeing 747-8 is a wide-body jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Officially announced in 2005, the 747-8 is the fourth-generation Boeing 747 version, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned wings and improved efficiency. The 747-8 is the largest 747 version, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States, and the longest passenger aircraft in the world.

Earth Photography: It’s Harder Than It Looks

022312-manicouganLetters from home by Astronauht Bob Pettit;

''From my orbital perspective, I am sitting still and Earth is moving. I sit above the grandest of all globes spinning below my feet, and watch the world speed by at an amazing eight kilometers per second (288 miles per minute, or 17,300 miles per hour). This makes Earth photography complicated.

Even with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, eight meters (26 feet) of motion occurs during the exposure. Our 400-millimeter telephoto lens has a resolution of less than three meters on the ground. Simply pointing at a target and squeezing the shutter always yields a less-than-perfect image, and precise manual tracking must be done to capture truly sharp pictures. It usually takes a new space station crewmember a month of on-orbit practice to use the full capability of this telephoto lens.

Another surprisingly difficult aspect of Earth photography is capturing a specific target. If I want to take a picture of Silverton, Oregon, my hometown, I have about 10 to 15 seconds of prime nadir (the point directly below us) viewing time to take the picture. If the image is taken off the nadir, a distorted, squashed projection is obtained. If I float up to the window and see my target, it’s too late to take a picture. If the camera has the wrong lens, the memory card is full, the battery depleted, or the camera is on some non-standard setting enabled by its myriad buttons and knobs, the opportunity will be over by the time the situation is corrected. And some targets like my hometown, sitting in the middle of farmland, are low-contrast and difficult to find. If more than a few seconds are needed to spot the target, again the moment is lost.

All of us have missed the chance to take that “good one.” Fortunately, when in orbit, what goes around comes around, and in a few days there will be another chance. It takes 90 minutes to circle the Earth, with about 60 minutes in daylight and 30 minutes in darkness. The globe is equally divided into day and night by the shadow line, but being 400 kilometers up, we travel a significant distance over the nighttime earth while the station remains in full sunlight. During those times, as viewed from Earth, we are brightly lit against a dark sky. This is a special period that makes it possible for people on the ground to observe space station pass overhead as a large, bright, moving point of light. This condition lasts for only about seven minutes; after that we are still overhead, but are unlit and so cannot be readily observed. Ironically, when earthlings can see us, we cannot see them. The glare from the full sun effectively turns our windows into mirrors that return our own ghostly reflection.

This often plays out when friends want to flash space station from the ground as it travels overhead. They shine green lasers, xenon strobes, and halogen spotlights at us as we sprint across the sky. These well-wishers don’t know that we cannot see a thing during this time. The best time to try this is during a dark pass when orbital calculations show that we are passing overhead. This becomes complicated when highly collimated light from lasers are used, since the beam diameter at our orbital distance is about one kilometer, and this spot has to be tracking us while in the dark. And of course we have to be looking. As often happens, technical details complicate what seems like a simple observation. So far, all attempts at flashing the space station have failed.''

GB0ANT - 2012

Thanks to all who supported us in the Antarctic Activity Week (AAW) 2012.

We had a great time and had some nice DX with good runs into JA and the Far East on 12 and 15m, plus quite a lot in Far East on 10M. This year we tried different modes with PSK modes also very productive. After 7 days casual operating we worked 2479 stations so many thanks indeed.

Qsl Cards are available via M0OXO.
Please have a look at our OQRS page and request either Bureau or Direct options (Paypal available). It is NOT necessary to send your card but we are always happy to receive them.


IRC's no longer available at UK Post Offices......

IRC_newWell its official !

UK Post Offices have now stopped issuing International Reply Coupons (IRC's).

I tried at two main Branches locally today and both confirmed they have been axed.

There is a some hope though as they will still be valid for mailing as normal and the Post Office are still happy to accept them for that purpose.

Alignment of Planets in the Sunset Sky

image_fullThe brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the evening sky, and you can see the formation—some of it at least—tonight.

Go out at sunset and look west. Venus and Jupiter pop out of the twilight even before the sky fades completely black.  The two brilliant planets surrounded by evening blue is a beautiful sight.

If you go out at the same time tomorrow, the view improves, because Venus and Jupiter are converging.  In mid-February they are about 20 degrees apart.  By the end of the month, the angle narrows to only 10 degrees—so close that you can hide them together behind your outstretched palm.  Their combined beauty grows each night as the distance between them shrinks.

A special night to look is Saturday 25th February when the crescent Moon moves in to form a slender heavenly triangle with Venus, Jupiter and the Moon as vertices.  One night later, on Sunday 26th, it happens again. This arrangement will be visible all around the world, from city and countryside alike.  The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are the brightest objects in the night sky; together they can shine through urban lights, fog, and even some clouds.

After hopping from Venus to Jupiter in late February, the Moon exits stage left, but the show is far from over.

In March, Venus and Jupiter continue their relentless convergence until, on the 12th and 13th of March, the duo lie only three degrees apart—a spectacular double beacon in the sunset sky.

Click the image above for a Video account!

Nice opening as warm ups for ARRL Test appear..

K1024_SNV35201Well let's hope things remain good over the weekend.

After a very poor start to the day again the bands seem to have awoken this afternoon with some nice DX around lunchtime as the stations check their equipment prior to the ARRL DX Contest this weekend.

Here is a snippet so far, fingers crossed it stays this way at least this afternoon and weekend.

PZ5RO (new 10 & 12m CW),

PJ4/NK1Z (new 15m CW),

& V44KAI (both new 10m CW),

8P9CS (new 17m CW),

VR2OP and HC2/W7SE (both new 12m CW)


Europe Hammered by Winter, Is North America Next?

image_fullNAIn North America, for the first half of this year's winter, the big news was warm temperatures and lack of snow. Ski resorts were covered in bare dirt, while January temperatures in southern California topped July highs!

Then, out of the blue, Europe got clobbered: Over the past two weeks, temperatures in Eastern Europe have nose-dived to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit). Blizzards and the bone-chilling cold have resulted in the deaths of over 550 people so far, with rooftop-high snow drifts trapping tens of thousands of villagers in their homes and cutting off access to entire towns. It has even snowed as far south as North Africa. negativeao_med

NASA climatologist Bill Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains what happened: "A couple of weeks ago, Mother Nature did an about face. The tight polar vortex that had bottled up the cold arctic air in the beginning of winter suddenly weakened. Cold air swept out of Siberia and invaded Europe and the Far East." Now the vortex is weakening.

With "the AO (Click here for information about Arctic Oscillation) Index going negative," as an expert or weather-nerd might put it, cold air escapes from that whirlpool and heads southward, resulting in the killing extremes now plaguing the other half of the planet.

Hubble Finds Relic of a Shredded Galaxy...

heic1203bAstronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have found a cluster of young blue stars surrounding a mid-sized black hole called HLX-1.

The discovery suggests that the black hole formed in the core of a now-disintegrated dwarf galaxy. The findings have important implications for understanding the evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies.

Astronomers know how massive stars collapse to form small black holes a few times the mass of the Sun. However, it is not clear how supermassive black holes, which can have masses of millions or even billions of times the Sun's, form in the cores of galaxies.

One idea is that supermassive black holes may build up through the merger of small and mid-sized black holes, a view supported by a new study using Hubble.

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