Oct 022015

In the next few weeks it will be “solar outage” time again.

A solar outage (or sun outage) happens twice a year when the sun, UK TV satellites and the earth are in alignment, and there is an interruption or distortion of satellite signals caused by interference from solar radiation.

When this happens, as the sun passes directly behind the UK TV satellites there can be a loss of some of the weaker satellite signals. This loss of channels is due to the Sun’s radiation swamping the satellite signal.


This happens around March and October time, around the time of the spring and autumn equinoxes.

This happens in the morning in the first weeks of October at around 1030-1100. At its peak, it can last for about 15 minutes.

It will cause a loss of the weaker signals on the UK beams of Astra 2E Astra 2F and Astra 2G satellites, and will result in a loss of some UK TV channel such as BBC ITV C4 and Five channels.

If I have done the calculations correctly,the table below shows when the key and peak times of the outage will occur (times are CET summertime)

dd/mm/yyyy | hh:mm:ss| hh:mm:ss |Duration
05/10/2015 | 11:37:02 | 11:45:37 |08:35
06/10/2015 | 11:35:15 | 11:46:50 |11:35
07/10/2015 | 11:34:06 | 11:47:21 |13:15
08/10/2015 | 11:33:26 | 11:47:31 |14:05
09/10/2015 | 11:33:05 | 11:47:15 |14:10
10/10/2015 | 11:33:04 | 11:46:44 |13:40
11/10/2015 | 11:33:24 | 11:45:54 |12:30
12/10/2015 | 11:34:14 | 11:44:29 |10:15
13/10/2015 | 11:36:08 | 11:42:08 |06:00

On the flip side of the day, at around 2230-2300, the satellites are in the shadow of the earth. This loss of solar power results in the satellites swapping to their on board batteries, again resulting in a small drop in power to the satellite and slightly weaker signals for people in fringe reception areas.

The outage in the mornings can actually be useful. When the outage happens, the dish is aligned to the satellites and the sun. You can use this time to check to see if there are any shadows from obstructions on the dish. Overhanging trees, branches etc can reduce the signals, and so using the shadows at that time you can identify what could cause a drop in your satellite dishes performance.


  2 Responses to “Solar outage time again, where the sun can disrupt satellite signals”


    The bi-annual loss of satellite signal is at its maximum today in northern Europe. At around 10.40 am local time, BBC and ITV transmissions will disappear for up to 14 minutes as the satellites pass in front of the sun. Radiation blots out the UK-only beams during the transit. Stronger Europe beams such as those used by Sky’s entertainment services are also affected, but normally stay above the reception threshold.
    Sun outage has been affecting southern Europe for the past week but will ease shortly. As the loss is in the mornings, only couch potatoes or radio listeners normally notice.
    The satellites are in a sun-earth-satellite straight line, as it’s the equinox for the Clarke Belt. At night, they pass through the earth’s shadow for a number of hours, requiring battery power to operate. (The sun’s light provides power at other times)
    Odd effects will be noticed during transition into the complete darkness of the earth’s shadow. Some areas experience better reception than normal around late evening and midnight but lose the signal completely during the switch to batteries.
    The closer you are to the UK, the less the effect.
    It’s also a good time to check for obstructions to your dish. Any shadows falling on the face indicate shading from an object or foliage.

    • This happens in October, not December.
      So the date of “21-12-2016” you have been given is totally wrong.
      The issue happens at the equinoxes.

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