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Solar Outages: What happens when Sky Muster™ crosses the Sun.

March 27, 2019 3:26 pm
How Solar Outages Occur.
How Solar Outages Occur.

Solar outages: they might sound like something only an astronomer would be interested in, but for those customers who are currently connected with nbn™ Sky Muster™ Satellite internet, it’s something you might want to learn a little bit more about given you’re going to experience one this week.

What is a solar outage, and how does it occur?

Also known as solar fade, Sun outage, or Sun fade, the solar outage occurs as a result of the twice-yearly arrival of the equinox – the day of the year where all points on the Earth’s surface experience the same length of daylight and darkness. Since the Earth is constantly tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees, for half of the year the southern hemisphere points away from the Sun, thereby experiencing colder, shorter days. Conversely, after the September equinox the days begin to get longer and the weather warmer as the southern hemisphere tilts towards the Sun.

As the nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite orbits the Earth, it transmits signals to and from communication stations. Geostationary satellites such as Sky Muster™ are stationed at approximately 36,000 kilometres above the Earth and are located directly over the equator. This means that the Sun aligns directly with satellites and receiving Earth stations during the equinox.

Why and how is my satellite internet service impacted?

In the days leading up to and away from the equinox, the Sun, Sky Muster™, and the receiving Earth station line up for increasing and then decreasing periods of time – peaking on the day of the equinox.

Since information is sent to and from the satellite via microwave radio signals, and the Sun produces a large amount of microwave radiation in addition to sunlight, the Sun’s radiation overwhelms the microwave radio signals coming from the satellite’s transponders. This overwhelm, or interference, from the Sun causes interruptions in fixed satellite services as the receiving stations cannot properly “hear” the satellite’s signals. Think of it as though you’re having a face-to-face conversation with a friend and a road train drives past behind you. As the truck draws closer you’re less able to hear each other speak, this background noise peaks as the truck is directly behind you resulting in an inability to hear one another at all, and then as the truck drives away your ability to communicate with each other returns to normal.

The effects of a Sun outage can range from a slight disruption in your signal in the days leading up to and away from the equinox to a complete outage for a short period of time as your location passes directly over the equator. This also means that service disruption will occur at different times depending on your location across Australia.

For us here at Activ8me, this period of alignment of the Sun, Sky Muster™, and the Earth stations reminded us all of the immensity of the forces at work in outer space, and the incredible technology that we have available to us that enables us to communicate with each other. It’s fascinating to consider all the forces at work that enable something that we’ve come to take for granted in this modern day and age.

Satellite internet customers are notified by the nbn™ about what date and time their internet service will be affected, and the information we currently have available is listed below.

Outage information as provided by the nbn™. Times shown are in UTC time zone.

NSW 

Bourke

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
1/4/20192:432:492:222:28
2/4/20192:422:502:212:29
3/4/20192:422:492:212:28
4/4/20192:422:482:212:27

Broken Hill

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
1/4/20192:422:452:212:24
2/4/20192:402:562:192:25
3/4/20192:392:472:182:26
4/4/20192:392:462:182:25
5/4/20192:402:452:182:24

Wolumla

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
3/4/20192:452:502:242:29
4/4/20192:442:512:232:30
5/4/20192:432:512:222:30
6/4/20192:432:502:222:29
7/4/20192:452:482:242:27

QLD 

Roma

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
30/3/20192:472:512:262:30
31/3/20192:452:522:042:31
1/4/20192:442:522:232:31
2/4/20192:442:512:232:30
3/4/20192:452:502:242:29

SA 

Ceduna

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
1/4/20192:372:402:162:20
2/4/20192:352:422:142:21
3/4/20192:342:422:142:21
4/4/20192:342:412:132:21
5/4/20192:352:402:142:19

WA 

Carnarvon

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
29/3/20192:272:292:062:09
30/3/20192:242:312:042:10
31/3/20192:242:312:032:11
1/4/20192:232:302:022:10
2/4/20192:242:292:032:08

Geraldton

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
31/3/20192:262:312:052:11
1/4/20192:242:312:042:11
2/4/20192:242:312:032:11
3/4/20192:242:302:032:10
4/4/20192:252:282:052:08

Kalgoorlie

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
1/4/20192:292:352:082:14
2/4/20192:282:352:072:14
3/4/20192:272:352:072:14
4/4/20192:282:342:072:13
5/4/20192:302:312:102:10

Waroona

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
1/4/20192:282:302:072:10
2/4/20192:262:322:052:12
3/4/20192:252:322:042:12
4/4/20192:252:322:042:11
5/4/20192:252:312:052:10

TAS 

Geeveston

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
5/4/20192:422:472:222:27
6/4/20192:412:482:202:28
7/4/20192:412:482:202:27
8/4/20192:412:472:202:27
9/4/20192:422:452:212:25

NT 

Alice Springs

DateSky Muster I: StartEndsSky Muster II: StartEnds
29/3/20192:382:422:162:21
30/3/20192:362:432:152:22
31/3/20192:362:432:142:15
1/4/20192:352:422:142:21
2/4/20192:362:402:152:19

Learn about how Sky Muster performs during the snow.

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