Summer continues to provide us with evening propagation on the high bands following the long lowband season that runs from fall through spring. The outstanding 10 Meter conditions of recent years are a distant memory, and few DX'ers spend much time tuning 15 anymore. At sunspot peaks, 20 Meters is used primarily as a nighttime band year-round. With the cycle dragging bottom, summer provides us with our only remnant of these good times. Things are really dry on the high bands.
We are beginning to hear forecasts of better times ahead from those who watch the solar charts more closely than I. Butterfly charts, which show the pattern of latitudes for sunspot activity, are showing that cycle 22 has completed and 23 has begun. This is good news for the long term, but it will be at least a year before we see substantial improvement even on 15 Meters. Brief periods of flux readings into the 80's and above will start to become more frequent but will not do much for us. The sunspot pundits will continue to gaze upward at the barren sun for signs of excitement, and can now surf the web to view sophisticated pictures and charts of our predicament. We will continue to report on propagation with a focus on working whatever DX is out there.
Much DX activity has departed 40 Meters for the summer due to the higher noise levels, but the stronger stations are still coming through and are workable. Many of them are regulars, and have already been logged by everyone that's been on much. There is still a nice Asian path in the morning, with Europe through the evening. High latitude paths are difficult on 40 even in winter, and are now out of season.
But it is summer, and high latitude paths are wide open on 20. Every evening we can work over the pole into Siberia and Turkestan, listening to that hollow and mysterious echo we never tire of. We can also hear it for much of the morning, especially for the first couple hours after sunrise. This path is to the Far East, and provides contacts that are especially exotic from a North American perspective. Those in other parts of the northern hemisphere can work these same paths, but they lead to different populations equally far off. Late afternoon opens an evening path to Europe equivalent to the seasonally deteriorated path on 40 in the same direction. Africa is open for most of the afternoon via short path, and briefly in the morning for a westerly challenge. The VK's and ZL's will gladly ragchew your ear off in the late evening, and Japan opens up around midnight as the sun approaches the horizon there. Things ain't so bad unless you are one of those watching the sun and waiting for 10 to open to Zone 22.