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No. 71: Sep-Oct 1990

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Lunar Eclipses And Radio Propagation

One can understand why long range radio propagation might be affected during a solar eclipse, because the ionizing radiation of the sun is temporarily intercepted by the moon. There is no such obvious explanation for radio propagation problems during lunar eclipses. Nevertheless, we have the following observation by L.M. Nash:

"During 1978/79, I was stationed on Diego Garcia (U.S. Naval base in the Indian Ocean). I was an amateur radio operator then, and one night there was a total (or near total) eclipse of the moon. I was in contact with a station in Utah, on the 15 meter (21.0 to 21.45 MHz) band. When the eclipse started, the Utah station faded out, and all I heard was a sizzling, crackling noise across the entire 15-meter band. This started and ceased within the duration of the eclipse. I then reestablished contact with the Utah station, who was still on the same frequency talking to a friend of his. When I asked him what happened, he stated that my signal had just disappeard."

(Nash, Lemuel M.; personal communication, May 12, 1990.)

From Science Frontiers #71, SEP-OCT 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss