Solar Outages Expected

Patty TerhuneTelevision

Solar outages are a natural phenomenon which occur twice a year (in the spring and fall), when the sun is positioned directly in line with the ground based satellite dish antennas used to receive cable television programming. The brief outages are expected to occur between now through March 15.

During these brief “eclipse” periods — when the receive antenna on the earth, the satellite and the sun are in direct alignment — the sun’s focused “noise” energy overwhelms the video signal from the satellite. Reception becomes degraded and eventually impossible for a brief period of time, usually less than 15 minutes. As the sun swings through the arc, it will usually start degrading at the first satellite, and on through to the last satellite. Since Clear Creek Communications looks at several different satellites for the cable television channels offered, the total time from one end of the arc is about two hours, but reception degradation on each satellite is only about 15 minutes. All communications providers using satellites experience this effect.

The time and duration of sun outages are predictable. The time of a sun outage is determined by the orbital position of the satellite and the geographic location of the receive dish. The duration and intensity of the outage will begin as a slight degradation in signal for several minutes each afternoon for several days, increasing to a peak level over several days and will then begin to reduce in intensity and duration over a similar period.