We are in the middle of peak season for Ten Meters, and conditions have been great (between flares). Conditions have been very good on 15 & 20, with 40 meter activity on the rise. All this will continue, but 10 will occupy center stage; drawing activity from other bands. Small wonder: 10 is good for less than half of the sunspot cycle. Overheated ionosphere problems dominate the band from spring through the end of summer even in the best of years, and then there are the flares. Everyone knows to take advantage of this band when it's hot, and we all know how boring it is when it's not. The exotic DX seems to know this too.
TRENDS: During autumn, northern hemispheric exposure to the sun decreases rapidly, bringing lower MUF's most noticeable at night. Bands like 10 & 15 close earlier as winter approaches, narrowing the polar window to the other side of the world (Asia) where the sun is rising. Optimum paths on the chameleon band (15) shift from a nighttime to daytime orientation. This is not true at all latitudes. In the southern hemisphere the trend is exactly the reverse. In equatorial regions there is always plenty of daylight, so 15 is open late year-round.
LONG PATH: Nighttime southern hemisphere circuits are important, as they are a rich source of exotic DX contacts into Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean on 15 and especially 20 Meters. A variety of these paths crisscross the Indian Ocean, and regular readers of this article know the special attention that has been given to these openings. The typical long path contact involves two stations operating in daylight, where the sun is low enough in the sky to provide access to the DX pipeline spanning the dark half of the earth. The southerly paths will be excellent for the next several months, with signals skirting Antarctica on 20 and taking a more equatorial bend on 15. The southern US gets the best propagation and dominates in pileups. Get even with the East Coast Lids: enjoy long path tomorrow morning!