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Friday, October 7, 2011

Sun alignment with satellites equals sketchy signals

For a brief period every year, the sun lines up perfectly with a given satellite and a given ground station. This makes life interesting for anyone trying to use that particular combination of ground station and satellite for a couple of minutes.

One interesting thing about this is that you can also use this to your advantage to do a really easy site survey. Just wait until the right time of year (now is one of them), then find the right time of day, and go look. If you can see the sun without trees, buildings, or other obstructions in your way, odds are you'll be able to get a signal from that satellite just fine. Well, at least, you will when the sun gets out of the way.

The satellite TV companies know all about this and have slides prepared for when this happens. They put this up when the alignment takes out one of the feeds coming into their centers. I caught this particular set of slides back in 1997.

The sun stole it. It happens during the spring and fall. There is no permanent effect. Your picture will return soon.