Sep 262014

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

Twice a year, the sun, UK TV satellites and the earth are in alignment. This happens around March and October time, around the time of the spring and autumn equinoxes.

When this happens, and the sun passes directly behind the UK TV satellites, there can be a loss of some of the weaker satellite signals. This is because the suns energy “swamps” the signals from the satellites.

This happens at around 1030-1100, and can at its peak, last for about 15 minutes.

It will cause a loss of the weaker signals on the Uk beams of Astra 2E and Astra 2F, and will result in a loss of some BBC ITV C4 and Five channels.

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.