October 07, 2011

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The Sun Is Screwing With Your TV Again

It’s that time of year again — the sun will be screwing around with cable reception until sometime around October 9th, 2011. The good news is that it should be fairly brief. The bad news is that if you want to avoid it, you’ll have to move to a different solar system. And we give service priority to our Earth-based customers.

Here’s a breakdown:

Each Spring and Fall, cable and satellite companies experience a technical phenomenon called “sun outages”. For approximately a week, the sun causes solar interference to all geostationary satellite signals. Disruptions are expected to occur through October 9.

The interference occurs only on some channels and starts out as a sparkle in picture and may intensify to a total channel outage for up to 15 minutes per day. Once it reaches its peak, the interference will gradually decrease becoming less noticeable each day after.

These Sun Outages usually occur during the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm (may vary by time zone) and may occur earlier and last later in some areas. They can affect the Audio and Video portions of several channels.

This will also affect our iPad app. The signal still comes into our distribution center for the iPad via satellite, subjecting it to the same cosmic interference. Although the sun is unavailable for comment, we apologize on its behalf for any frustration that you may experience.

+- 1 Comment

  1. Alfy Johnson's reply

    You should have noted that the reception problem occurs when a geosynchronous satellite carrying a TV or other signal is directly in line between one of the satellite dishes receiving the signal and the Sun. The Sun is such a strong source of electromagnetic radiation across such a broad range of frequencies that it swamps out the TV signal, so that the receiver at the satellite dish can’t dig the TV signal out of the sunshine noise.

    The TV signal disruption occurs around noon, when the sun is closest to directly overhead, and near the Spring and Fall solar equinoxes when the plane of the earth’s equator intersects the plane of the earth’s orbit around the Sun. The difference between noon and the actual time-of-day of the signal disruption is related to daylight savings time, the angular width of the Sun from the perspective of the satellite dish, and its distance from the meridian at the center of its time zone.

    The time of year difference between the signal disruption and the Spring and Fall equinoxes is related to the distance of the satellite dish from the Tropic of Cancer/Capricorn in the northern/southern hemisphere.

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