Operating an aurora

Last Updated on October 24, 2021 by John Berry

The pages here indicate what’s needed to optimise operating during a radio aurora. First, let’s get some understanding of what it’s about. The following video gives an excellent summary of SSB operation during a radio aurora. In this case it’s on the 6m band but it could equally be on 2m.

Here are some broad ideas about operating during an aurora. These are taken from many web sources.

  • Be ready. Auroras don’t last long. Monitor space weather for Kp going high to indicate a geomagnetic storm. Monitor Dst, the momentary geomagnetic disturbance for an increase over 200nT.
  • Keep overs and QSOs short.
  • Be prepared to pan your antennas east and west of north. Stations available may be in central or southern Europe but you will need to point somewhat northeast to work the path via the aurora.
  • Be able to tilt your antennas to gain maximum flexibility in path optimisation.
  • Have a good quality station with multi-element beam antenna, low noise receiver amplified and reasonable power level.
  • Be frequency agile. Watch out for Doppler shift and use your RIT control to adjust your receiver rather than your central VFO to have the TX frequency track RX frequency. Then cancel your RIT on moving to another QSO.
  • Listen carefully in SSB voice calls. And be eager to shift to CW. And if you can’t do CW, learn.