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You Might Lose TV Service This Week Because Of The Sun

My cable company just warned me about "sun outages." Uh, what?

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Since I had never heard of sun outages, I went online to see whether it was a weird, fake email. But it wasn't. And everyone seemed as confused as me.

"Sun outages may interrupt your television service." Listen, Optimum, if the sun is going out then I've got bigger problems than no tv.

lmaooo at Optimum emailing about outages for a few minutes next weeks cause of the Sun. ya service already goes out from tiem to time lol


@PlanetJCG Glad we could shed light on the upcoming events! #OptimumCares ^JH

And these outages aren't limited to New York City, where I live.

Cable, phone, and radio companies all over — from Hawaii to South Carolina — are sending similar notes about sun outages. Charter Communications provided outage times for its customers from Alabama to Wyoming.

So what is a "sun outage," anyway? / Via Giphy

Sun outages happen twice a year, according to Christi Whitworth, director of education at a North Carolina-based research and education facility called Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.

"Essentially what's happening is the [TV] satellite is eclipsing the sun," she said.

In the mainland U.S., twice a year — in early October and early March — a satellite passes in front of the sun and throws off the signal.

Annie-Rose Strasser

There are receivers sitting here on earth waiting to get signals from a satellite in the sky. But when that satellite eclipses the sun, the sun's stronger signals overpower the relatively weak ones of your TV satellite.

"The sun is one of the biggest sources of radio interference," Whitworth said. "The other one would be the center of the galaxy."


Oh, and, if you have cable, you will probably be affected by it.

Whitworth said that almost everyone will have some kind of outage at some point, even if your cable company hasn't let you know about it.

"Everyone whose company uses a satellite to transmit the data of the TV signal has times of year when this would be occurring," Whitworth explained, "unless they have a satellite orbit that never crosses the sun."

You should check with your cable provider to find out when your own service might be affected.

But the outage shouldn't last long. / Via giphy

Satellites don't take long to cross the sun. Whitworth said that realistically, between the satellite eclipsing the sun and computers catching up with the weird blip in reception, the longest an outage should last is 15 minutes.

So, if your TV goes out for a few minutes this week, now you know why!

Annie-Rose Strasser is the managing editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Annie-Rose Strasser at

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