HAM Radio experiment planned for solar eclipse
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - While most of us are excited just to catch a glimpse of a solar eclipse, HAM radio operators in Northwest Ohio and around the world will be collecting data for scientific study.
“The experiment consists of us operating our radios,” Keith Hutchinson, President of the Monroe County Radio Communications Association said. “Our radios work by bouncing off the ionosphere.”
The ionosphere is a layer of gases high in the atmosphere that gets heated up by the sun and forms ions, hence the name. This electrically charged part of the sky is where the northern lights occur. It fluctuates in size from day to night, and that fluctuation influences how radio signals are transmitted. That’s where solar eclipses provide a unique opportunity.
“We found that the moon blocking the sun simulates the conditions we have at nightfall,” Hutchinson said. “So, they take all these data points from operators from point to point no matter where they are. Then they do the math because we all give signal reports, and then they can analyze that.”
HAM radios have been around since the early 1900s, so modern communications have largely replaced them in our day-to-day lives. However, the simplicity of the technology makes it resilient, and extremely valuable during disasters.
“When all else fails, HAM radio is still operating. During hurricanes, when there’s power outages,” Hutchinson told us. “When the police can’t even talk to who they need to talk to, HAM radio operators are ready with their batteries charged and ready to help out.”
The more HAM radio operators that join the solar eclipse experiment on both Oct. 14, 2023 and April 8, 2024, the better scientists can fine-tune the future of communication.
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