Ham radio operators to listen to eclipse from Pompey’s Pillar

While most people will be looking-up on Monday, Aug. 21, to see the optical solar eclipse (seen with the eye), the local Yellowstone Radio Club will be listening carefully to hear the “Radio Eclipse,” heard with the ears. The local Yellowstone Radio Club will have two transmitting stations setup at Pompey’s Pillar between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and is inviting all interested persons to come see citizen science in action.
When the moon begins blocking the sunlight reaching the earth that morning, the largest scientific data collection of the upper atmosphere will begin. Virginia Tech Institute, along with the National Science Foundation, is asking thousands of ham radio enthusiasts across the country to fill-the-airwaves with transmissions to measure the effect the Eclipse has on the ionosphere—a layer of the atmosphere between 50-200 miles above the earth’s surface. It is this layer of ionized gases that allow radio signals to travel long-distance, across the country or even around the world. These high frequency radio waves, between 3-30 MHz need that ionosphere to be charged-up by the sun’s radiation each day to bounce the radio signals back to earth. These frequencies are used by the military to keep in contact with their troops, missionaries in remote jungle areas to request medical supplies, sailboats on the open seas to request help during storms and by ham radio operators around the world to enjoy their hobby of talking with other licensed operators.
Over the past 100 years of radio, much has been learned about how various frequency wavelengths react to the charging-up and discharging that takes place in the upper atmosphere each 24 hours. Certain frequencies are bounced back to earth very strong during the daytime but are unusable at nighttime – other frequencies are exactly the opposite. This explains why you can hear local AM Radio stations on your car radio during the daytime but then hear AM stations from Oklahoma, San Fransisco and even Mexico late at night.
Virginia Tech wants to collect scientific data on what happens to the charge in the Ionosphere during the rapid before, during, and after of a total solar eclipse. To that end, over 100 automated, computerized, un-manned radio-listening-stations have been setup around the world to hear, measure, and report the signal strength from ham radio signals transmitted that day.
Yellowstone Radio Club will have one station sending digital signals that are highly calibrated out to those listening stations to help collect highly-accurate measurements of the eclipse effect on the ionosphere. The second station will be setup on voice and will be used for talking with other ham operators across the country so scientists can hear what effect the eclipse has on the volume and clarity of radio transmissions. The club encourages all interested folks to come out and get-on-the-air with us to make radio contacts. Each person who makes at least one radio contact over-the-air will receive a certificate to commemorate the occasion.
For further information contact either Charlie Hanson at 696-2039 or Ron Glass at 690-9441.

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