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Bi-annual sun transit disrupts satellite communications in northern Canada


The transit of the sun happens every spring and fall (Photo courtesy: SOHO/EIT Consortium/ESA/NASA)
The transit of the sun happens every spring and fall (Photo courtesy: SOHO/EIT Consortium/ESA/NASA)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

October 11, 2012 — Every year, the sun aligns with communication satellites for a few minutes each day in the fall -- resulting in telephone disruptions in northern Canada.

If you've been experiencing static while on the phone this week, Mother Nature could be the cause.

Every spring and fall, the sun crosses the earth's equatorial plane, bringing it into alignment with communication satellites.

When that happens, satellite signals can be flooded with radio frequency noise created by the sun -- resulting in a little extra static on the phone.

This year's fall transit lasts from October 7 to 19th -- but according to Emily Younker, Corporate Communications Manager for Northwestel in Whitehorse, there have been no customer complaints.

"All of our northern communities will be affected by the satellite disruptions -- but to a varying degree," she says.

The disruptions should occur between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m., with degradation levels varying on different days, depending on the amount of noise picked up by the satellites.

Mainly, people will experience some static, but Emily says there won't be any full-out disruptions.

"If you're experiencing static, just wait it out," Emily advises. "The interference will only last for a few minutes at a time."


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