The TV / FM Band DX Calendar
Seasonal patterns for FM and TV DXing are well established. They give us a pretty good idea of the kinds of DX activity we can expect at various times throughout the year. Remember, conditions on the FM and TV bands change constantly, and excellent DX can and often does pop up when you least expect it!
January - Tropospheric effects are usually diminished during January, especially in the colder northern states. However, when warmer than usual temperatures exist, there can be some decent tropo enhancement. Sporadic E is likewise unusual for most of the U.S. during January. What little there is favors the Southern and Southwest states, with openings into Mexico the most likely. January is a good month for Meteor scatter. The Quadrantids meteor shower often produces good meteor scatter. Look for activity between December 28 and January 7. The best nights are January 3 and 4. There is a fair amount of minor meteor shower activity, keeping things interesting the entire month of January.
February - Tropospheric enhancement is confined mostly to the warmth of Florida and the other Gulf States. Again, warmer than usual temperatures can trigger some tropo in the colder regions of the country. Sporadic E is rare during February, so don't expect too much. There are only a handful of minor meteor showers during February. All in all, February is normally a pretty dull month for FM and TV DX, a good time for rest or do other activities!
March - As warmer temperatures return to the Southern States, tropospheric effects start picking up. Watch for warm, moist gulf air pushing up against cold, dry arctic air. This condition often produces good tropospheric ducting. March is usually another dull month for Sporadic E activity, but it certainly can happen, especially toward the end of the month. March offers only a handful of minor meteor showers, so don't waste too much time looking for meteor scatter.
April - As the northern hemisphere's atmosphere heats up and becomes more unstable, and spring thunderstorms start cranking up for the summer, watch for some outstanding tropospheric effects. The Southern States should already be enjoying some great tropospheric enhancements, with effects starting to show up further north later in the month. The Sporadic E season also gets underway in earnest with an occasional opening, typically showing up in the late afternoon. A major meteor shower, the Lyrids, happens between April 16 and 25. For 2003, the peak occurs on April 22. Lyrids, along with several minor showers, make April a decent meteor month.
May - Look for some decent tropospheric activity during May, especially in the Midwest, East and Southeast States. The Sporadic E season should be in full swing, with intense, all-day openings. May is also a decent month for meteor scatter. The Eta Aquarids starts on April 21, extending through May 12. In 2003, the peak occurs on May 6. There are also a handful of minor showers to keep things interesting.
June - June is usually the best month for FM and TV DX! Tropospheric ducting is common during June, sometimes producing openings out to 1,000 miles, and greater distances are possible. Sporadic E activity is also at its peak during June. It's not uncommon to see all-day sporadic E DX. It's a dull month for meteor activity, with only minor showers, but who cares? The Sporadic E and tropo DX should keep you sufficiently entertained during June.
July - July is usually also a fantastic FM and TV DX month. Tropospheric ducting blesses the Midwest and Eastern States, bringing in stations from up to 1,000 miles away . Sporadic E is usually very good during July, with intense openings likely. The Southern Delta Aquarids, and some additional minor showers, produce some decent celestial fireworks during July. The Southern Delta Aquarids gets underway on July 14, and goes all the way to August 18. The peak occurs on July 28 and 29.
August - Sporadic E season is starting to wind down, but there is the likelihood of some decent Es openings, especially earlier in the month. August often offers up some good tropo openings, especially in the mornings and early evenings. A number of major meteor showers occur during August. The Perseids meteor shower takes center stage. It starts on July 23, and runs all the way to August 22. The Perseids comes to its peak on August 12. But that's not all folks. A number of moderate showers takes place during August, making this month a popular one for meteor scatter DXers.
September - Tropospheric enhancement is about all we have going for us this month. Openings with 1,000+ mile long-haul DX, lasting several days, are not uncommon during September. Don't look for much sporadic E as it usually disappears during the month of September. There is only the tail-end of August's major meteor shower activity to keep us occupied during the early part of the month. We have have only a handful of minor showers to get us through the rest of September. All in all, a pretty dull meteor month.
October - Tropospheric effects are starting to wind down for the year, depending on where you live. However, there may yet be a few good openings before the month ends. Look for the occasional sporadic E opening, but they become more and more rare as we move later into October. If all else fails, the Orionids meteor shower should put on a good show. It gets underway on October 15, lasting until October 29. The peak is on October 21st. A bunch of minor showers should keep your radio pinging during October.
November - This can be an interesting month for tropospheric enhancement, especially if the weather is unusually warm, then suddenly turns cold. Don't expect much in the way of Sporadic E, but don't completely rule it out either. There have been some good openings in November, especially toward the end of the month when the sporadic E season is cranking up in the southern hemisphere. The Leonids meteor storms of the past few years are gone and won't return for almost 100 years, so don't look for much meteor activity in November.
December - Tropospheric enhancement is usually rare during December, but don't entirely rule it out. Freaky warm weather can produce some tropospheric enhancement. December can also be an interesting month for Sporadic E. It's not at all unusual for openings to occur during the last half of the month. This is when the Sporadic E season is at its peak in the southern hemisphere. Some of that activity seems to work its way to the northern hemisphere for reasons that are not yet fully understood. December can also be a good meteor scatter month, with the Geminids firing up on December 6, and lasting until December 19. The peak is on December 14th. A cluster of minor showers keep things active for the entire month of December.