Sporadic-E season Opens in the Southern Hemisphere

Amatier Radop Operators in South Africa are experiencing unpredictable and strong 50 MHz openings that could last until January.

This beneficial operating environment occurs when the MUF in the E-layer rises up to 100 MHz, or when it reaches 200 MHz then Es contacts on 144 MHz are also possible as recorded in Australia, New Zealand and South America.

In the past many Es contacts were made on 50 MHz FM and SSB from Gauteng to Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, as well as from Durban to Cape Town. The two ZS6DN beacons at Irene were excellent indicators of Es openings on 50 and 144 MHz, including meteor bursts.

Unlike Australia and New Zealand, openings on 50 MHz in the South Africa have been very sparse in recent years and this can be traced to the fact that 50 MHz beacons are all pointing North for TEP as well as the lack of monitoring, and amateurs therefore would miss any Es openings.

Sporadic-E openings on 50 MHz in South Africa usually occurred from 08:30 to 11:00 CAT and sometimes also in the afternoons. DX Es-openings North to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mid-Africa were recorded around midday, and even South between Port Elizabeth and Marion Island around midnight. Es openings on 50 MHz are more frequent, nevertheless.

VK and ZL stations have made many long distance contacts on 144 MHz too, during the 2014/2015 Es season. Since Sporadic-E is unpredictable, an early alert can only come from a 50 MHz beacon outside the skip distance of 500-600 km, which is increased to 800-900 km on 144 MHz.

An appeal is made to those 50 MHz beacon operators in Krugersdorp, Polokwane and Rosh Pinah in Namibia, to please turn their beacon antennas South for the duration of the Sporadic-E season.