DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Be Prepared for Heard Island

One of the Legion of Hand Wringers was by the other day, this one to sit down and give us the all-knowing look of certain bad news. "Sure is nice weather", we began, with thoughts of heading him off before he got started, "with this being so close to Christmas and all." The Hand Wringer looked at us for just a second, then replied, "Good weather and Happy Holidays won't do us any good once Heard Island comes on." he began, beginning to wring his hands in the all too familiar manner. "No, not with the solar activity we've been having lately." We knew that this particular Hand Wringer was about as bad as they come, but we felt we had him on this one.

"The flux hit 104 on the last solar rotation and it's back up above 80 this time around. Sunspot Louie is predicting mid-nineties for the next two weeks. With Heard coming off the last two weeks in January, we should see the next rotation and maybe even more sunspots. Louie says that there is a good chance the flux could hit 100 again in January. What's the problem?" we asked, with our best optimistic smile. Hand Wringers hate people who smile! Especially when they are on a roll.

"We won't see 100 and we won't see 90, either." The Hand Wringer stated emphatically, "Not a chance. This particular group of sunspots is just the remnants of the previous cycle. They will disappear within a week and the flux will drop to the mid sixties and stay there. And the Ap index has been up lately too. Probably a coronal hole or a region that's producing X-ray flares. We are in for at least another year of terrible conditions, even on the low bands. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any openings to Heard. Maybe for the DXers in ZS land, but not us!" And with that, he was up and on his way to spread the holiday cheer among the other DXers.

Son of a Gun! What could we say? We had been hearing nothing but good news from Sunspot Louie for the past two months. Although we didn't understand the details of coronal holes and X-ray flares, we had been told that the scientists at NASA and NOAA agreed with Louie. With this combination of practical experience from Louie and the facts from the scientific community, how could the Hand Wringer be right? We didn't give it another thought for the rest of the morning, but by noon, it was back. We started to have nagging doubts . . . Hand Wringers are just that, hand wringers, but they are good at their work. There was only one solution. We headed off for Palos Verdes country!

As soon as we made our way to Palos Verdes we found the Leader of the Sundancers down in the barrancas. We had not seen activity like this since the upswing of cycle 20! It was like old times . . . if you were an Old Timer! We heard the thunder of Big DX, the bass bongo that had gotten them in trouble with the tower at LAX in 1978 . . . when Big DX was confused with sonic booms! The Leader made his way over to us, did a pirouette and stopped for a few seconds. "We've got it", he shouted above the rattle of the tenor bongos and the clicking of heels of the Sundancers. "The sunspots are returning. Heard Island is safe! So will be Bouvet and Bhutan. There will be DX for all!" And that was all he said before he was off, kicking up his heels and whipping the sundancers into a frenzy. Everywhere we looked there was the taratella, constantly increasing in speed, and accompanied by castanets and tambourines.

We made our way back home, and we knew that DX was safe. The Palos Verdes Sundancers were hard at work. The sunspots were returning. We had completely forgotten about the Hand Wringer who had started all this in the first place. The Great Days of DXing were just around the corner and Heard Island was coming up within a month! Don't listen to Hand Wringers with too much spare time. They think too much. Listen to the Hero of Mafeking! Be prepared! The signs are everywhere. There will be DX for all, although for some more than others. DX IS! Believe this . . .

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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