Here Comes the Sun (Outages, To Be More Precise)

LinkUp customers across the country, take note: you need to understand and prepare your network for Sun Outage. Here’s a quick overview of what it is, and what you should expect:

WHAT CAUSES SIGNAL LOSS?

Since dinosaurs roamed the earth – or at least since we began delivering programming via satellite – we have been dealing with loss of signal due to Sun Outages. The outage occurs within a few days of the both the spring and fall equinox, when the sun lines up almost perfectly behind the desired satellite as viewed from the earth station.

Think of it this way: your antenna is looking at a relatively small satellite in orbit at 22 thousand miles in space. Meanwhile, the sun – remember, it’s HUGE, y’all – and all it’s hulky mass is overshadowing the satellite just long enough to cause problems in the form of signal loss.

HOW LONG CAN I EXPECT SIGNAL LOSS TO AFFECT MY TRANSMISSION?

If you are using a large well-aimed dish that is in good condition, your actual LOS (Loss Of Signal) may only be a minute or two at the worst for only a couple of days. On the other hand, if you have low EB’s and AG’s due to a marginally sized dish, a dish that is not properly aligned or is damaged, you may lose several minutes per day for several days. Different networks will have somewhat different outage times due to their relative downlink power levels.

The most likely scenario for your transmission…during the outage period, you will have a couple days of increasing blips and stutters for a few minutes, followed by a couple of days of total outage for a few minutes, followed by a couple more days of decreasing blips and stutters for a few minutes. However, please note: if your signal is down for over 15 minutes or outside the times published as sun fade moments, you are having issues not related to the sun.

CALCULATING YOUR SUN OUTAGES

If you want to do it yourself, there are a number of sun outage calculators on the web where you can predict dates and times, including:
http://www.cromack.com/satsun.html which is fully configurable and https://www.satellite- calculations.com/Satellite/suninterference.php which is even more configurable.

The http://www.satellite-calculations.com site also has a cool sun outage visualization genera- tor that will produce a graphic time lapse visualization of the path and extent of the minute-by- minute outage path.

HERE’S WHAT LINKUP CUSTOMERS CAN EXPECT (MARCH 2018)

In the northern states – New York, Minnesota, the Dakotas – expect to start experiencing Sun Outages by March 1. These outages will affect your network for a few days, then the effects will start making a slow trek southward. By March 9 networks in the southern half of the country will feel the effects of Sun Fade – again, for a few days and for a few minutes each time.

SES 2 at 87
Southern US. 3/6 to 3/9 (approximately Noon Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approximately Noon Local Time)

Galaxy 17 at 91
Southern US. 3/6 to 3/9 (approx Noon Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approx Noon Local Time)

Galaxy 3C at 95
Southern US. 3/6 to 3/9 (approx 12:30pm Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approx 12:30pm Local Time)

SES 1 at 101
Southern US 3/6 to 3/9 (approx 1:00pm Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approx 1:00pm Local Time)

SES 3 at 103
Southern US 3/6 to 3/9 (approx 1:00pm Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approx 1:00pm Local Time)

SES-11 at 105
Southern US 3/6 to 3/9 (approx 1:15pm Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approx 1:15pm Local Time)

Anik F1R at 107
Southern US 3/6 to 3/9 (approx 1:30pm Local Time)
Northern US 3/1 to 3/4 (approx 1:30pm Local Time)

These numbers are approximate and anyone wanting specific locations and times should refer to an online calculator or contact LinkUp directly.

Resource: The Broadcasters Desktop Resource article “Here it Comes Again: Sun Outage Time” by Kevin Kidd.

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