Starship VE6AB - caution Aurora ahead
This photo finds me out on the grasslands of eastern Alberta, where I spent the night shooting photos and playing ham radio.
I must say it was a lot of fun, and the bands were in not bad shape even with Aurora present.
Aurora or "Northern lights" is caused by interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind (a mix of charged particles blowing away from the sun).
During storms, enough of these charged particles make it through to the Earth's upper atmosphere that they interact with the earths natural magnetic field lines. When enough of these particles collide, energy is released in the form of auroral light.
In addition to creating a pretty light show (mostly in upper latitudes), ham radio signals scatter off of these particles and can greatly enhance propagation on the VHF and UHF ham radio bands such as 6 meters.
High levels of aurora can also make HF ham radio propagation via polar routes difficult, although about the time I shot this photo I was working stations to the northeast on 30 meters with contacts made in to Germany and Italy at a distance of 7500 and 8500 kilometers respectively.
Click on the photo for a closer look.....