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Propagation News – 24 December 2017

RSGB

December 22, 2017

This week we have a slightly different approach to the HF propagation news. We want to help you and your family contact Santa’s elves in Lapland. The station Oscar Juliet Nine X-ray is on the air this Christmas from Santa Claus Land. Up to 30 elves are operating OJ9X from Finland for the entire month of December to help celebrate the centennial of the country’s foundation. To work OJ9X, the best starting point is the DX Cluster or Reverse Beacon Network to see where they are operating. They have been spotted on many bands and modes over the past two weeks.

The HF predictions suggest 20 metres, 14MHz, gives a good possibility of a contact, with a probability of greater than 80 percent during the hours of daylight. There is also a 15-20 percent possibility of some daylight openings on 17 metres, that’s 18MHz, especially around late morning. Thirty metres, or 10MHz, should also give a high probability of a contact during daylight, while 40 metres, or 7MHz, may be open for the whole 24 hours, with late afternoon being the best time. Eighty metres, 3.5MHz, may also open to Finland from late afternoon and through the night, while Top Band, or 1.8MHz, may also be open to OJ9X during the hours of darkness in the UK.

NOAA is predicting unsettled geomagnetic conditions at times over the next two weeks due to coronal hole activity. This could bring noisy bands and depressed maximum usable frequencies, so if you hear OJ9X try to work it while the band is open.

VHF and up:

The lead up to Christmas Day will be mild, with high-pressure weather and some enhanced VHF tropo conditions. But from Boxing Day it’s all change to a colder more unsettled weather type. This will be dominated by low pressure and periods of rain, or snow in some northern areas. The only show in town from this weather is usually rain scatter on the gigahertz bands. There is a possible return of high pressure later next week, with possibly some tropo back in play for next weekend and the lead-in to 2018.

These low pressure developments are usually symptomatic of strong winter jet streams and these can produce some mid-winter sporadic E, so don’t rule out a look at 28MHz or 50MHz for some strong short-skip propagation, particularly using the digital modes.

Why not make trying a new propagation mode your New Year’s Resolution? You could seek out rain scatter, sporadic E, meteor scatter, tropo, or try CW and SSB on the VHF/UHF bands. You’ll find plenty of support from these bulletins through the year.

The Quadrantids meteor shower is usually active from the end of December so look for better meteor scatter. It has a short peak around 3 and 4 January, so be ready for that.

EME path losses are still high, but falling as the week progresses. Declination goes positive on Tuesday and conditions will improve as the year turns.

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