How does the solar eclipse affect ham radios?

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  Many ham radio operators are excited for the upcoming solar eclipse. "This is my first chance of being a part of a total solar eclipse," ham operator Ben Lowe said

The upcoming eclipse is something he's been dreaming about for a while. His father used to share stories with him about how amazing they are. "He told me about seeing that last eclipse 99 years ago, so he would have been five years old at the time," Lowe explained.

Now that he's an adult, he will be paying close attention to it. "This solar eclipse is providing a unique opportunity for the hams to measure the effects of the eclipse on the ionosphere propagation," Lowe said.

Lowe said ham radios reflect their signals off the ionosphere. "And of course that is charged up by the sun, when the sun goes away during the two and a half minutes of the eclipse they are anticipating not having that much reflection or propagation," Lowe explained.

He said propagation helps with communication. "If you have good propagation you can talk to your friends in foreign countries like we did way before there was ever an internet," Lowe said.

He said the upcoming solar eclipse will weaken the signals of ham radios, but by how much will be determined on Monday. Lowe and his family have been preparing for the eclipse for a long time. His wife bought 30 special glasses last year.

He said a ham operator from Virginia Tech will be collecting data from operators across the country to see what results everyone gets.