At the start of August the Sporadic E season here begins to tail off.
A bit like the reverse of the start of the season, there are openings in the Mediterranean and from Southern England, Germany, etc, but they do not often come this far North.
No doubt somebody has a link between this and the clouds or migration of snails, but apart from the increasing number of days from the solstice (and thus mid-summer), it all seems pretty random to me. There is the pattern I see with heightened K index - a measure of ionised material arriving from the Sun.
So perhaps not only does there need to be more energy from the Sun (X-rays etc arriving at a high level due to the higher angle of the rays hitting atmosphere in Summer) but also maybe particles. So if there are a lot of high speed particles we get aurora, but I see a pattern of Es openings being related to moderate levels of ions arriving.
My pet theory: - too many ions = aurora, high levels = Es, low levels = silence.
Well, that is the way it looks to me. I need more evidence, which is more than the other madcap theorists say that they need.
With gently raised ions arriving (K numbers of about 2 or 3) we have had nice short openings, mostly on 6m,. Since 24 June this has brought me 6m contacts into Italy, France, Portugal, Poland, and Ukraine on JT65 mode via Es. I also managed to work a few on 6m using SSB, which is unusual for me. None of these openings seemed to reach 70MHz here, though one did give good contacts to other GM stations (Grrr). You win some and you lose some.
Last year the last 4m Es contact here was on 14 September (OH1TM and OH6PA 1504 and 1513km), the only stations on the band that day. The last large opening was on 22 August when I worked Spain, Hungary Poland and France on 6m, plus Hungary, Czech, Germany, Croatia, and Romania on 4m.
So there can still be a few good openings during August and a few isolated ones up to mid-September. But it is generally a downhill slope form here, at least this far North. the joy of Es is that you don't know, and the weak openings bring the best DX!
The K number is predicted to rise to about 5 over the next couple of days, so we will see if it happens, and if there is any Es or aurora as a result.
On the HF front, the solar flux has tottered up to 107. I said when it rose over 100 something might happen. I received PU3WSF on 10m WSPR. 10500km, but either he did not hear me or he was in beacon mode and not listening. Nothing else trans-Atlantic noted, which has been the case for weeks.
The 40m dipole is in the garden, in the sense that it is lying on the path, ready for the weather to clear enough to put it up. I have the dual problem of having terrible hay fever (must be summer) and needing to put the heat on in the shack (must be winter). The wind has also prevented raising a new mast to support a new 4m vertical and the centre of the 40m dipole.
Hope is at hand with the Perseid meteor shower. Whilst I have not worked anyone yet, it looks promising. I can see pings on the 6m JT65 trace. I did work SP8WJW on 28 July, and SP2JYR/4 (1511km, KO03pv - new square) on 3 August, via meteor scatter as the rocks build up. There might be a flurry of activity as the Germans prepare to go off the main part of 4m at the end of August (temporarily we hope). Peak night for the Perseids should be around 12 August.
PE1MXP put out an appeal via his page on QRZ.com (for some reason I cannot put in a link) asking for listeners to send him reports for meteor scatter reception of his beacon. Frequency is (dial) 70.094.20, mode ISCAT-B, hours 18:00 to 09:00. So far I have heard nothing.
That is it for now.