The Aug. 21 solar eclipse across the United States promises to provide not only a rare visual experience for Americans, but also a rare listening experience for amateur radio operators interested in how the eclipse might affect radio waves in the atmosphere. And members of the Amateur Radio Club at Missouri S&T plan to tune in to the eclipse as part of a global research project.
“During the solar eclipse there will be a worldwide experiment using amateur radio,” says Missouri S&T electrical engineering student Aaron Boots of Kansas City, Missouri.
Boots is president of the university’s Amateur Radio Club, W0EEE. He says the eclipse is expected to cause “dramatic changes” in the ionosphere – that part of the atmosphere where neutral atoms and molecules become ionized, or electrically charged, by solar and cosmic radiation. The eclipse offers amateur radio operators a chance to learn about how radio waves propagate under such conditions.
“All around the world,” Boots says, “amateur radio stations like W0EEE will transmit using several different portions of our frequency spectrum to communicate with stations all over the world and accurately log all radio conditions for later analysis.” The S&T Amateur Radio Club plans to set up its antennae on the grounds of Missouri S&T’s student center, the Havener Center, where students, faculty, staff and local residents will gather for a public solar eclipse “watch party” 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 21.
The data gathered at Rolla and elsewhere will be shared with researchers at Virginia Tech for analysis. The amateur, or “ham,” radio initiative is led by the Ham Radio Citizen Investigation (HamSCI), which will hold a worldwide “Solar Eclipse QSO Party” on eclipse day. “QSO” is ham-speak for “contact,” or an initial transmission and signal report.
“The sun is the most powerful radio in our solar system,…