January brings us the lowest MUF's of the year, and they are lower than in the last few years. Low bands are having a great season, but signals on 80 are still much weaker than they will be at the bottom of the sunspot cycle. This is something to look forward to, but for now, lets enjoy 10 and 15 Meters.
As I write this, hoards of policemen, lids and jammers are anxiously monitoring their packet machines lusting for the opportunity to QRM the expected Afghanistan expedition. As the path to this part of the world is almost due north from here, don't expect to work him on 10. Even if we hear him on this band, the east coast will have a tremendous advantage in the pileups. Even openings to European Russia will be short this year. Still, 10 will be loaded with DX activity from Europe in the morning. Openings to the rest of the world will occur at their regular times. For those difficult to reach corners of the world (southern Asia), things will be easier on 15 or 20. Conditions on 15 will be very good.
For the past two months, 20 has been closing at night. During January this will occur especially early. Since this is the band most rely on for night path propagation, activity is way down. Much of it has shifted to the low bands. 20 is in great shape in the southern hemisphere. In the late afternoon and evening, look for activity from Africa and the Antarctic. Tune carefully for exotic long path stuff from the far east around sunset. Morning long path is wide open to most of Europe, along with Russia and the Middle East.
This is the best time of year for low band work. This is more difficult, and linears are almost a necessity. For many Honor Rollers, low band DXing is the only cure for DX burnout. Europeans are very workable after midnight on 80 this year, but MUFs are too high for any heavy DX excitement on 160. 40 will be the best band for serious world wide nighttime DXing for the next month or so, until 20 returns.