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Propagation News – 5 July 2020

This week saw the beginning of a new month and continued sporadic E openings. Traditionally we see a slow down in the number of sporadic E openings in July, but while we are seeing a few periods on 10m when there are no openings, they inevitably reappear.

An HF F2-layer opening to Angola occurred on Wednesday, allowing amateurs to bag Gabriel, D2EB on both 17 and 12 metres CW. Paul, G0KPH also spotted Gabriel on 40 metres CW in the evening.

As we said a couple of weeks ago, the HF bands are staying open later, which is a summer phenomenon. Darren, G0TSM has found 17m FT8 to be open to Japan, the West Coast of the USA, Alaska and Hawaii until around 0200UTC. Mike, G4FHQ said 80m has been good overnight too, after he heard a string of W2s and VE3s working the Canada Day contest at 0330UTC at 57/8 on SSB.

The Sun, however, remained very quiet with zero sunspots, which means our predictions are beginning to sound like a stuck record! The Kp index ranged from zero to three thanks to a high-speed solar wind stream. Next week NOAA predicts a solar flux index of 68 and a Kp index of two to three. There are no sunspots predicted, just a few bright spots on the STEREO Ahead spacecraft’s extreme ultraviolet view, which may or may not develop into spots. Mid-latitude coronal hole activity has declined recently and it does look like we are now truly at sunspot minimum.

VHF and up:

There is a change in the weather coming along and Sunday should see a ridge of high pressure building across the south of the country, bringing tropo back into the options. This could be particularly good for paths to the south across the Channel and Biscay as well as across the southern North Sea. This ridge gets a bit of knock-back after mid-week as a small low tracks across the north of the country. In some models this is also followed by a further weak ridge for the next weekend, so tropo will continue to feature.

The sporadic E season is less prolific in July, but it’s still a key month for the mode. The weather is always busy generating atmospheric gravity waves that can propagate upwards to affect the E region and trigger sporadic E, so hopefully some parts of the country may find the geometry is right for some VHF DX paths via sporadic E. These high summer weeks are often good for sporadic E ultra DX paths to the Far East, mostly in the early morning and on FT8, so it’s well worth checking the clusters from 0600 to 0800UTC.

With low Moon declination and no major meteor showers this week, it’s a good week to increase your square count via the satellites. QO100 and the low-Earth orbiters are always there to work the DX if the bands are flat.

Finally, a thought—while we’re definitely not advocating “don’t call CQ”, you’ll increase your chances of making non-contest QSOs hugely, especially on the GHz bands, if you announce your planned activity in advance. Use email reflectors, social media and the ON4KST microwave chat to let people know when you’re QRV. (rsgb.org)

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