December 28, 2004

Sporadic E

What an odd christmas present I received from our atmosphere! I was wondering into work and about 1km from arriving, I hit the scan button on my car radio upward from National Radio (101.4FM Auckland). Weirdly, it landed on 101.75.

I was hearing 2WS from Sydney apparently.

Ian, A DX'er from Australia informs me that this is common around new years. Down in Otago recently, an [nzradio] lurker also piped up with news of "it lasting about an hour and it wiped out all the local FM stations and I could receive Nova96.9 and triple J and also The Edge from sydney with full RDS read out as well".

Another lurker: "Indeed, I had that happen once while living down on the Coast. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, my stereo started picking up Northland stations. In the space of about five minutes, I was able to tune into KCC FM, Radio Pacific, and one other Northland FM station. Then they faded away and I never picked them up ever again. It was weird, but very cool."

Crazy stuff... So, how did this happen?

Technical gobbledegook:
{Sporadic-E is a type of ionospheric E-layer reflection caused by small patches of unusually dense ionization in our upper atmosphere. These sporadic E-layer "clouds" appear unpredictably. Sporadic-E events may last for just a few minutes to several hours; a given event usually affects only small areas of the country at any one time. Sporadic-E is observed on 144 MHz less than a tenth as often as on 50MHz. Signals are often remarkably strong, allowing 50 and 144MHz stations running 10 watts, and often much less than that, to make contacts 1500 km and longer with relative ease.} source.

In english:
It means distant radio signals are able to be amplified to other parts of the world for a short period of time when our atmosphere creates these bizarre conditions known as "sporadic E lift".

This type of radio stuff is very much of a different world to the talk Im used to. If this has sparked your ions, then check out the NZ DXers page.

I managed to listen to 2WS for about 2 minutes - and my entire listening experience was bathed in ads.

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