2017 Total Solar Eclipse News

By Fleet Belknap, KJ4ZWA

Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC

Observable solar eclipses are rare events, and a lot is still unknown about how they interact with earth’s atmosphere.  The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse will provide a treasure trove of information, as it will take place across the United States.  In order to study the atmosphere during the solar eclipse, NASA is partnering with over 57 teams across the continent to launch balloons that will provide live video of the eclipse. While this looks like an interesting opportunity, it is way too expensive for the average Amateur Radio enthusiast; each team has a budget anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000.

By Dr. Chuck Higgins, Middle Tennessee State University

Radio Jove is a NASA-affiliated education and outreach project that began in 1999 and gives students, teachers, and other interested individuals a hands-on experience in learning radio astronomy (http://radiojove.gsfc.nasa.gov). Radio Jove is a not-for-profit organization, led by a team of about eight volunteer scientists and engineers, which provides a mechanism to distribute radio telescope education kits and educational resources. Participants may build a simple radio telescope kit, make scientific observations, and interact with professional radio observatories in real-time over the Internet. Dedicated observers can help answer science questions about the nature and characteristics of low frequency radio emissions coming from Jupiter and the Sun, as well as, to understand the variability of Earth’s ionosphere. Radio Jove maintains a data archive to facilitate in the exchange of information and the validation of other ground-based and space-based radio data.

By Bill Liles, NQ6Z

Editor’s Note: The HamSCI-related eclipse efforts comprise of a number of sub-projects. This article describes the EclipseMob project, which is an experiment led by a team at George Mason University and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. EclipseMob will study eclipse-driven ionospheric effects using the Very Low Frequency (VLF) and Low Frequency (LF) bands. Results of this experiment could aid in understanding propagation at the proposed 2,200 meter ham band.

Since 1912 there have been many efforts to collect and analyze data during a solar eclipse to help understand the ionosphere. These efforts have been conducted in frequencies ranging from VLF to VHF.  In most cases, individuals or small teams have collected data from disparate transmitters.

HamSCI scientists met at the Fall American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco during the week of December 11–17, 2016. The Fall AGU meeting is one of the largest gatherings of geoscientists in the world, with approximately 24,000 people attending. During the meeting, HamSCI scientists presented ham radio-based research, discussed possibilities for upcoming experiments, and networked with members of both the Citizen Science and Space Science Communities.

On October 19 – 20, 2016, two new Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) receivers were installed at the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey (UACNJ) Observatory at Jenny Jump State Park in Hope, NJ. These receivers, assigned call signs K2MFF-2 and K2MFF-3, are sponsored by the New Jersey Institute of Technology Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research (NJIT-CSTR). These receivers will listen for amateur radio Morse Code signals on the high frequency (HF, 1.8–30 MHz) bands and report “spots” back to the main RBN web site. These spots will be used by ham radio operators to find other hams to communicate with, and by scientists to study shortwave propagation and the ionosphere.

In “The Reverse Beacon Network” (Oct. 2016 QST, pp. 30-32), Pete Smith, N4ZR, and Ward Silver, N0AX explain how the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) is used to observe and report both CW and RTTY communications to the DX spotting network and to a data archive. This article explains how to be spotted by the RBN, how to download RBN data, and also how to become an RBN receiving node.


In an article by Ward Silver, N0AX, the American Radio Relay League has featured HamSCI in the August 2016 (Pages 68-71) issue of QST.  Ward's article discusses some history of amateur radio involvement in science, the vision of HamSCI, and a description of ham radio activities for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Download a free PDF of the full article here.

In addition, the August 2016 QST inlcudes a full-page profile of HamSCI member Magda Moses, KM4EGE (Page 13). Congratulations, Magda!


Researchers and HamSCI volunteers meet at the 2016 Dayton Hamvention to plan the 2017 Solar Eclipse QSO Party. (Left to Right) Magda Moses KM4EGE, Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF, Ward Silver N0AX. Photo by Bob McGwier N4HY.