October has been a fine month, with DX propagation plentiful on several bands. Things are pretty much back to normal, though polar openings have not been common. 10 Meters is crowded with Europeans when the flux is high enough to open up the path. With 15 also in great shape, we have two reliable day path DX bands. At the same time, the low band DX season is off to a fine start.
20 Meters remains the best band for propagation to remote corners of the world. During sunspot peaks it is a magnificent band for night path DXing, with long path openings at both the beginning and ending of each day. Signals propagate across any path where it is night, and also across parts of the world where the sun is low in the sky. They do not propagate well over nighttime paths where it is winter unless the solar flux is very high. With winter approaching and the fluxes lower than in recent years, look for early band closings to begin during November. During our evening ("prime time") DX hours, the northerly path across the Atlantic (to Europe) will often be closed. It will remain open across lower latitudes, to South America and Africa. Before the band closes for the night, look for westerly paths back to areas where it is still daylight. The northwesterly path to Asia is one of these. Our best path to Europe will be in the late afternoon, and in the morning along the grey line.
This should be an excellent season for 40 Meters, but the band will also be very crowded. When 20 closes early, prime time DXers move to lower bands. SSB operators will find the band dominated by foreign broadcasts, which is the reason many DX stations avoid this band. 75 and 160 Meter SSB are challenging alternatives. Most lowband CW DX activity is packed into the lowest 15 Khz of the 40 Meter band. Since DX stations are quickly located by stateside packeteers, you only have a couple minutes before the frequency is hopelessly overrun with lids. CW pileups are worse on 40 than on any other band.
With a good antenna and some power, 75 and 80 Meters are interesting bands. Working Europe is more of a challenge. Signals are usually weak, and the east coast has a tremendous advantage over us during the early evening. In winter, the European sunrise occurs after midnight when east coast competition is lighter. Late evening is a good time for 80 Meter DXing.