Interest in the VP8PJ DXpedition to the South Orkney Islands remains high. The team has now been on the island for one week and many UK amateurs have worked them. At the moment, it looks like beams and linears are the norm for a reliable contact, although they have been heard in the UK on 17 and 20 metres FT8 at -10dB SNR in the afternoon using just loft-mounted dipoles. As they work their way through the pile ups more opportunities to work them may become available. They are currently due to remain on the island until 5 March. As always, the point-to-point facility at rsgb.org/predtest will give you an indication of the best times to work VP8PJ from the UK.
Conditions have been quite settled with the Kp index moving between one and zero. The Sun continues to remain spotless with a solar flux index of 71. As this report is being prepared there are two small coronal holes on the Sun that are rotating into an Earth-facing position. If these develop, they could cause the Kp index to rise this weekend due to their associated high-speed solar wind streams. This may result in a pre-auroral HF enhancement.
Otherwise, NOAA predicts the Kp index may rise again to four on March the 4th and 5th, presumably due to a returning coronal hole.
We are now heading towards the Spring equinox, which is a good time for north-south HF contacts.
With the Commonwealth Contest on Saturday, 14 March this may be a good time to try as you won’t have any competition from continental contesters.
VHF and up:
It feels like ‘Groundhog Day’ for the VHF/UHF propagation prospects with another week of unsettled weather on the way. There are likely to be several occasions when low pressure systems pass by northern Britain, thus bringing strong winds to Scotland again, but with some windier spells in the south too, though mostly not as strong.
The principal outcome of this weather pattern is that it leaves no room for high pressure to develop over the UK and therefore no chance of tropo for yet another week.
As before, that means that potential exists for some rain scatter activity on the GHz bands using the heavy rain, hail and snow as good scatter points. Sometimes individually from fast-moving small shower clouds, but also from larger areas like active weather fronts making it easier to latch onto the scattering area.
The upper air patterns continue to show strong ‘winter’ jet streams nearby or over the country, so this leads to the slim chance of ‘out-of-season’ sporadic E on 10m and 6m, especially if using the digital modes and, if forced to pick a favoured direction, it would probably be south towards EA and CT.
Moon declination reaches maximum mid-week and path losses are falling with perigee a week on Tuesday, so a good week for EME. 144 MHz sky noise reaches 500K on Tuesday but is generally low for most of the rest of the week.
There are no meteor showers peaking in the coming week, so keep looking for random meteor scatter QSOs around dawn. (rsgb.org)