What a difference a month makes! During September, the bands made the transition from the doldrums of summer to the excellent conditions that make this season so special to contesters. Europeans have returned to 10 Meters, and 15 is in especially good shape. Things are back to normal - almost. Fluxes are lower this year, and this will effect 10 Meters more than any other DX band.
Fall is always the peak season for 10 Meters (better than spring). It is a daytime band that requires considerable sunspot activity to open up high latitude paths to Europe and Asia. Polar contacts on 10 are especially challenging, and are usually made during the weeks when the grey line is aligned near the pole. This would mean late summer and early fall. In late summer, however, the MUFs are too low to open 10 at high latitudes. The fall DX season begins during September and peaks very quickly. Later in the fall season (November) it is already too dark over the pole for 10 meter polar propagation. October, therefore, is the peak month for worldwide propagation on this band. The windows to Asia should be watched around sunrise and sunset, and they will often be closed this year because of the lower fluxes. Later in the fall season, the grey line will lead to Europe in the morning, and we can expect plenty of activity.
15 Meters is less sensitive to the drop in solar flux, and is currently open to all parts of the world. There will likely be days this season when the fluxes are too low to open parts of Europe on 10 (e.g. Russia), but the paths will be open on 15. DX'ers should develop a feel for what kind of propagation to expect at various flux levels. Conditions on 10 will be excellent when fluxes are around 150, but very different when it dips below 100. When the fluxes are low, move to 15 Meters and watch for extended daypath propagation on 20.
20 Meters will probably start closing at night early in the season, but it is summer in the southern hemisphere where the band will stay open all night. This means that we will continue to have reliable long path, with plenty of exotic DX coming through in the hours after sunrise. 40 Meters is in great shape at night, and we are in for an excellent DX season through the spring. This band will also become very crowded in the evening when 20 starts closing early. October is a good month for working the southern hemisphere on 80 Meters.