An active sun
When I got interested in HF radio, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I remember a couple of things: One was how much of a struggle it was for a young person like me (at the time) to afford the latest and greatest HF receivers, although I did try pretty hard and did reasonably well, ending up with a Drake R7A and an Icom IC-R70 that were both fairly superlative.
There was a lot more activity on the HF bands back then, and I recall hearing a lot more too, because there was frequently excellent propagation too, thanks to the levels of solar activity.
In the intervening 40 years, we’d gone through another three or four solar cycles that were pretty disappointing. I’ve read a number of articles by perplexed solar physicists and astronomers who said that they could not explain why the sun had become so uncharacteristically quiet.
Now we are in the early stages of solar cycle 25, and it looks as though the drought has finally broken. I have been hearing signals on 10M, for example, that I haven’t heard since the early 1980s.
There are a number of 10M FM repeater outputs just above 29.600 MHz; on one at 29.640, which is located near Toronto, Canada, I heard a QSO between a station in the Canary Islands and a station in downtown Tokyo. I find that impressive, and it typically doesn’t happen unless the sunspot number is over 200.
Finally, the sun has come back to life