Warning: Sun Outages May Ruin Your Premier League Football


Watching today’s Blackburn against Manchester United match on television, I couldn’t help but notice that Fox Soccer Channel ran a message across the bottom of the screen apologizing in advance for any satellite transmission difficulties due to solar outages.

Solar outages? “What the heck is that,” I thought.

My first thought that it was something to do with the torrential downpour at Ewood Park, but while it was raining cats and dogs in Lancashire, I learned that solar outages are something else entirely.

According to Wikipedia, “A sun outage is an interruption in or distortion of geostationary satellite signals caused by interference from solar radiation.”

In layman’s terms, the radiation from the sun can screw up the satellite signal. This usually happens in October, February, March and September — around the time of the equinoxes.

Wikipedia continues, “At these times, the apparent path of the sun across the sky takes it directly behind the line of sight between an earth station and a satellite. As the sun radiates strongly at the microwave frequencies used to communicate with satellites (C-band and Ku-band) the sun swamps the signal from the satellite. The effects of a sun outage can include partial degradation, that is, an increase in the error rate, or total destruction of the signal.”

As it stood, no satellite transmission difficulties were evident in the match — although the earlier West Brom against Fulham match on Fox lost audio and the video froze a couple of times.


  1. Patrick October 4, 2008
  2. The Gaffer October 5, 2008

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