Geomagnetic conditions have been disturbed for a few days now thanks to a Coronal Hole pointing straight at us.
The radio conditions peaked here at about 16:00 on 8 May, though I heard auroral effects for a couple of hours on either side of that time. The disturbance rumbled on for a couple of days and the absolute peak seemed to be at about 03:00 on 9 May - not a good time for radio in Europe.
Still, the peak here brought the usual effects. I heard the GB3NGI beacon on 2m and the OY6BEC beacon on 4 metres, plus various LAs and PAs on 4m and 6m CW. I might even have resorted to CW but I suddenly recalled that the keyer had the wrong plug on it (grrr).
After that Andy GM4JR was pretty strong on 4m, but then I had about an hour of hearing just those stations and beacons until at around 17:30 I heard LA and PA stations again on CW. I was hunting around for an adapter or a plug for the keyer when I happened to press the voice keyer key on the rig which sent CQ on SSB. This brought a response from David G4ASR (IO81). After that I worked LA9BM who had heard the SSB contact and switched mode. JP40 is a new square for me on 4m - 4m square number 170 - and a healthy 798km away. It went quiet again and I had still not solved the keyer lead issue when I heard Tom EI4DQ in Cloyne on CW. Still with no key, I replied on SSB. Tom switched mode and we completed a contact at a healthy 592km.
This was as unique an auroral opening as any. As it had been boiling away for a day or so I was waiting for it to peak here. Watching the auroral oval on Solarham gave me a good indication of when conditions would reach here. Although some people in Europe had a few contacts in the morning, by watching the oval I was pretty sure my chance would come around 16 to 17 hours, which it did do.
Although I did reach two stations well south of me, I only heard these two "big guns", who are experts at VHF operation. I did not hear any other southern stations, which suggests it was a fairly limited event. When it opens properly there is always a pile-up from the South! Nice to work JP40, but as usual the lack of activity means I tend to hear beacons and not stations.
Once again, what a joy to see these strange events unfold before our eyes.