|MadSci Network: Astronomy|
QUESTION: My cable (and computer link thru cable) have been affected the past five days by what I am told by my provider are "sun spots". Two neighbors, whose houses face different directions from mine, aren't affected. My next door neighbor, whose house faces the same direction as mine, is affected. All of us receive service from the same cable pole. During a short, heavy rain yesterday my service returned to normal briefly. I am perplexed why this is occurring this year but hasn't in past years. Can I prevent the interference in any way? ANSWER: The facing of your house is rather unlikely to influence your reception problem. If one attempts to charitably give the cable company the benefit of a doubt, the sun is near the high point in it's eleven-year solar cycle. There will be more periods of genuine solar interference than usual. Updates on current solar activity can be found at http://www.sec.noaa.gov/today.html . "A typical flare reaches its maximum brightness in a few minutes, and takes at least an hour to die away." (Patrick Moore's A-Z of Astronomy, [Flares, Solar] entry). I believe that flares lasting more than several days will be uncommon. When in good condition, coaxial cables that are used by cable TV companies should be rather resistant to outside radio noise, including solar noise. TV cables usually have an amplifier every several houses to restore signal strength. This amplifier is a prime suspect for your reception problem. A more distant suspect would be coaxial cable damage.
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