Trans-Atlantic opening on the 50 MHz band – Fri 16th Dec 2022

There was an interesting trans-Atlantic opening on the 50 MHz band between Europe and North America on Friday the 17th of December 2022 and it looks as if it was either F2 layer or multi-hop Sporadic-E propagation.

The map above shows the 50 MHz paths open via FT8 for AB1OC in New Hampshire. There is evidence of plenty of Sporadic-E activity to the eastern half of the United States but several stations in the UK and Ireland can seen.

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
G0CHE AB1OC 6m FT8 5265 km 15:14:44
G4IFX AB1OC 6m FT8 5244 km 15:16:44
AB1OC M0DEP 6m FT8 5194 km 15:13:29
G0GGG AB1OC 6m FT8 5149 km 15:15:14
AB1OC G0HVQ 6m FT8 5117 km 14:38:26
G4RRA AB1OC 6m FT8 5055 km 15:10:44
AB1OC G8IXN 6m FT8 4979 km 14:42:29
EI7GUB AB1OC 6m FT8 4819 km 14:24:14
AB1OC EI3KD 6m FT8 4728 km 14:32:29
EI2IP AB1OC 6m FT8 4688 km 15:09:44

There are plenty of openings on the 50 MHz band at the moment but most of them are from areas closer to the equator. In the last week or so, there have been some very long paths across the Pacific from Australia and New Zealand to the USA. What makes the North Atlantic opening interesting is that it was East-West and it was from a northerly latitude.

It looks as if the opening itself was reasonably modest and it was mainly confined to what might be described as ‘large stations’ i.e. the numbers were in the tens rather than the hundreds.

WW1L in Maine and W3UR in Maryland have similar list of FT8 across the Atlantic…

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
G0CHE WW1L 6m FT8 4965 km 15:15:14
G4IFX WW1L 6m FT8 4945 km 14:49:44
WW1L M0DEP 6m FT8 4894 km 14:44:28
G0GGG WW1L 6m FT8 4850 km 15:15:14
G0HVQ WW1L 6m FT8 4817 km 14:54:44
WW1L G0HVQ 6m FT8 4817 km 14:47:56
WW1L G7RHF 6m FT8 4779 km 14:53:27
WW1L G4RRA 6m FT8 4756 km 15:33:59
WW1L G8IXN 6m FT8 4681 km 14:40:59
EI7GUB WW1L 6m FT8 4518 km 14:13:14
WW1L EI3KD 6m FT8 4428 km 15:02:29

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
G0CHE W3UR 6m FT8 5858 km 15:16:14
W3UR G4IFX 6m FT8 5838 km 15:31:58
W3UR M0DEP 6m FT8 5787 km 14:59:28
W3UR G0GGG 6m FT8 5743 km 14:59:30
W3UR G0HVQ 6m FT8 5711 km 14:59:56
W3UR G7RHF 6m FT8 5673 km 14:59:29
W3UR G4RRA 6m FT8 5648 km 15:31:59
W3UR G8IXN 6m FT8 5571 km 15:31:59
W3UR EI3KD 6m FT8 5321 km 15:33:29

Looking from the eastern side of the Atlantic, the FT8 paths for EI3KD on the south coast of Ireland are shown above. I’ve included the full path lists for EI3KD and G1IFX at the end of this post.

Analysis… This post certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of who worked what but it gives an overview of what the 6m trans-Atlantic opening was like. The big question is if the opening was via the F2 layer or was it multi-hop Sporadic-E like during the Summer months?
In the last three days, there have been 29 M-Class flare from the sun and the solar flux on the 16th was up to 166. It would suggest that F2 propagation might be one explanation. There were some Sporadic-E openings on the day in Europe and North America so the possibility of trans-Atlantic multi-hop Sporadic-E can’t be ruled.
Paul Logan, MI3LDO reports that conditions in the low VHF band (~40 MHz) suggests that it was more likely to be Sporadic-E rather than F2 layer.
It’s worth remembering that the peak of this sunspot cycle is unlike all of those that came before. Now most radio amateurs are using weak signal modes like FT8 and are listening for signals buried in the noise. In the previous cycles, CW and SSB were the dominant modes.
I didn’t see any reports of CW or SSB contacts for the trans-Atlantic opening on the 16th and I’m quite sure that without FT8, it would have been a much smaller affair with just a small few stations making contacts.
The take home message is that if it was F2 propagation then it’s likely to happen again. If it was multi-hop Sp-E Sporadic-E then it may not occur again for a while. Keep those beams pointing across the Atlantic and wait for the next 6m opening.
Cont…

FT8 paths for EI3KD in Ireland…

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
W4FZ EI3KD 6m FT8 5462 km 15:01:29
K4AWM EI3KD 6m FT8 5403 km 15:37:29
EI3KD W8BT 6m FT8 5400 km 14:24:44
EI3KD W4XP 6m FT8 5386 km 14:10:41
EI3KD KN4IKI 6m FT8 5355 km 14:24:44
W3UR EI3KD 6m FT8 5321 km 15:33:29
EI3KD W3LPL 6m FT8 5321 km 14:27:41
EI3KD KM3V 6m FT8 5306 km 14:10:41
W3LL EI3KD 6m FT8 5275 km 13:52:29
EI3KD NF3R 6m FT8 5165 km 14:34:11
EI3KD KC2IEB 6m FT8 5143 km 14:24:41
EI3KD KC2IEB/2 6m FT8 5143 km 14:09:45
W3CC EI3KD 6m FT8 5128 km 14:59:59
EI3KD N3HPX 6m FT8 5126 km 14:36:41
EI3KD W3ATV 6m FT8 5125 km 14:23:11
WA2FZW EI3KD 6m FT8 5053 km 14:58:29
EI3KD WA2FZW 6m FT8 5050 km 14:33:11
WO2T EI3KD 6m FT8 5029 km 14:57:29
K1TEO EI3KD 6m FT8 4927 km 15:35:59
KA1W EI3KD 6m FT8 4919 km 15:12:59
KB1YNT EI3KD 6m FT8 4866 km 14:48:29
EI3KD K1TTT 6m FT8 4839 km 14:29:11
EI3KD K1AFC 6m FT8 4806 km 14:29:42
AB1OC EI3KD 6m FT8 4728 km 14:32:29
EI3KD AB1OC 6m FT8 4728 km 14:27:41
N1DG EI3KD 6m FT8 4713 km 14:48:29
EI3KD W1HFF 6m FT8 4696 km 14:06:42
EI3KD K1TOL 6m FT8 4538 km 14:22:44
WW1L EI3KD 6m FT8 4428 km 15:02:29
EI3KD WW1L 6m FT8 4428 km 14:22:44
W2RE EI3KD 6m FT8 4251 km 15:08:44
VE1SKY EI3KD 6m FT8 4177 km 14:42:29
VO1SO EI3KD 6m FT8 3285 km 14:07:29
EI3KD VO1FOG 6m FT8 3219 km 14:06:41

FT8 paths for G4IFX in England…

Txmtr Rcvr Band Mode Distance Time (UTC)
K3EL G4IFX 6m FT8 6025 km 15:16:58
G4IFX K3EL 6m FT8 6025 km 15:16:41
G4IFX W4FZ 6m FT8 5980 km 15:24:44
W4FZ G4IFX 6m FT8 5980 km 15:01:28
G4IFX K4AWM 6m FT8 5922 km 15:26:44
K4AWM G4IFX 6m FT8 5922 km 15:18:58
KD3CQ G4IFX 6m FT8 5894 km 15:18:58
G4IFX AB4SF 6m FT8 5891 km 15:01:44
G4IFX KF2T 6m FT8 5853 km 15:03:44
W3UR G4IFX 6m FT8 5838 km 15:31:58
G4IFX W3UR 6m FT8 5838 km 15:16:44
G4IFX W3LPL 6m FT8 5838 km 14:44:44
G4IFX KM3V 6m FT8 5823 km 15:03:11
K3BFA G4IFX 6m FT8 5696 km 15:10:58
G4IFX NF3R 6m FT8 5682 km 15:16:41
G4IFX KC2IEB 6m FT8 5661 km 14:47:11
W3CC G4IFX 6m FT8 5646 km 14:59:58
G4IFX N3HPX 6m FT8 5644 km 15:27:14
G4IFX W3ATV 6m FT8 5643 km 15:27:11
G4IFX KZ3MW 6m FT8 5585 km 15:16:41
WA2FZW G4IFX 6m FT8 5570 km 15:27:28
G4IFX WA2FZW 6m FT8 5568 km 15:16:41
W2JPG G4IFX 6m FT8 5564 km 15:01:14
G4IFX N3PKC 6m FT8 5562 km 15:17:15
G4IFX WO2T 6m FT8 5546 km 15:03:41
WO2T G4IFX 6m FT8 5546 km 14:57:28
K2ZD G4IFX 6m FT8 5526 km 15:13:29
G4IFX K2ZD 6m FT8 5526 km 15:03:11
G4IFX K1TEO 6m FT8 5445 km 15:16:41
K1TEO G4IFX 6m FT8 5445 km 15:11:28
G4IFX KA1W 6m FT8 5436 km 15:16:41
KA1W G4IFX 6m FT8 5436 km 15:12:58
G4IFX KB1YNT 6m FT8 5383 km 14:49:41
G4IFX K1TTT 6m FT8 5355 km 14:38:44
K1AFC G4IFX 6m FT8 5329 km 14:43:58
G4IFX K1AFC 6m FT8 5323 km 15:16:42
G4IFX AB1OC 6m FT8 5244 km 15:16:44
AB1OC G4IFX 6m FT8 5244 km 15:12:28
G4IFX K1SIX 6m FT8 5240 km 15:16:44
WE1H G4IFX 6m FT8 5231 km 15:12:28
G4IFX WE1H 6m FT8 5231 km 14:47:14
N1DG G4IFX 6m FT8 5231 km 14:48:28
G4IFX W1HFF 6m FT8 5213 km 14:44:12
G4IFX K1TOL 6m FT8 5053 km 15:03:14
WW1L G4IFX 6m FT8 4945 km 15:00:58
G4IFX WW1L 6m FT8 4945 km 14:49:44
W2RE G4IFX 6m FT8 4767 km 15:08:43
G4IFX VO1FOG 6m FT8 3739 km 14:46:41

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