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Amateur Radio Community Learns from Eclipse


Members of the Dexter Southfield Amateur Radio community gathered at the Clay Center on Monday, August 21, in hopes to learn from the solar eclipse. While totality for the Boston area was only 63 percent, it was still an amazing view for the radio enthusiasts and visitors who observed the celestial event through the School’s solar safety lenses.

Students involved in the Clay Center Amateur Radio Club (CC-ARC) took advantage of the eclipse to explore changes in radio signals. They collected data on the ionosphere – the region of the atmosphere where cosmic and solar radiation bumps electrons free from atoms and molecules. Scientists say solar eclipses are great opportunities to study the ionosphere as signals may pass through the region in unpredictable ways.



Clay Center Director Bob Phinney explains that the levels of ions in the ionosphere vary from day to night, decreasing in the absence of sunlight. The sudden light-to-dark switch that occurs during an eclipse is an opportune moment to observe this layer of the atmosphere. Using transmitters that bounce signals off the ionosphere, students attempted to make contacts across the U.S. at certain frequencies. HAM radios were affected because those operators rely on that electrified part of the atmosphere, especially to communicate over great distances.

It was a great moment of scientific research, continued learning, and a great show for all.

The Clay Center Amateur Radio Club includes more than 40 current Dexter Southfield students and 20 alumni, as well as 12 astronauts. Parents and students are welcome to join any of the radio license classes offered this fall at the Clay Center. For more information, please click here.



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