Our eight-year-old daughter, Hattie, has been conducting a science experiment where she has been monitoring the direction of earth’s magnetic north pole. The expected outcome of the experiment was that the direction would not change over the course of several weeks.
To conduct this experiment, she taped a laminated outline of her compass onto an immovable stone table in our yard. Before she taped it in place, she positioned the outline so that her compass needle lined up with a mark on the paper indicating magnetic north.
Several times each day, she carefully places her compass in the fixed outline and takes measurements of where her compass needle points. Surprisingly, she has obtained measurements which seem to indicate that magnetic north has been deviating very significantly (up to ~10 degrees) on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, this is alarming if true, so we are going to monitor her experiment much more closely over the days to come. However, Hattie is an extraordinarily meticulous child, so we take her findings seriously.
A quick Internet search returns apparent testimony from others who claim to have observed similar phenomena recently.
Bob and Doc I (or anyone else of course),
I know things are going to get exciting today but I have a question sorta in a different direction. You may have noticed from previous posts (kinda infrequent, I know) that I’m a NAVAID tech. I had a most interesting event occur last Friday and wonder what you think about it.
One of my VOR sites was being orbited by Flight Check just about the time that the Geo storm started on Friday. F/C took me off the air, that is they NOTAM’ed my VOR out of service because all of the radials were 3 degrees off. You don’t want airplanes using your site when it’s that far off.
Normally, internal monitoring by the VOR itself will shut the facility down when it goes 1 deg off on ANY radial. 16 small antennas around the site’s counterpoise constantly monitor the signnal. The site itself saw no problems, did NOT shut down, and when we checked it, everything was fine. Apparently the radial “bending” was only in space, not at the site.
Three days later a F/C aircraft flew another orbit and all the radials were … perfect.
What could the geo storm have done to us?
I had a similar event happen about 8 months ago at another site, in Southern Indiana, where only the radials east and south of the site “changed” by up to 5 degrees, then went back to normal a few days later. This time is was several commercial aircraft who reported the radial angles off, compared to GPS, and by the time Flight Check got there everything was back to normal.
At issue is whether we ought to be taking sites off the air during a Geo storm. There’s a lot of expense involved in having special aircraft come down to put us back on the air, plus the time that a NAVAID is down and unavailable.
Some of us are already pushing these questions “upstream” but I was wondering what you guys think, since I HIGHLY value your knowledge of solar and geo mag things.