What is still propogation?
If you conduct a survey on the issue of radio amateurs, which is the title of this article, some of the responses "good propogation" and the other "bad." The answer really depends on the preferences of different hams. If you're a fan of high-frequency bands (15, 12 and 10 meters), propogation bad for you. But if you like to work for the low bands (160 and 80 meters), then propogation good, in fact, even improved!
Everything about electrons and sunspots
Propogation of radio waves in the ionosphere depends on the HF, which has free electrons resulting from the ionization of the solar radiation. These electronic layers can "wrap" the range of electromagnetic waves of short waves back to Earth, and as a consequence of this process may please us distant radio. If it were not for these electronic layers, our HF waves went to space, where would be lost forever.
But the electron density is not constant. It changes throughout the day, throughout the year and from year to year. In general, the electron density is highest in the daytime in the summer months and is particularly high in certain years. The electron density is highest in those years, when we see the largest number of dark (relatively cool) areas on the Sun, called sunspots. Periodic changes in the number of sunspots called the solar cycle.
We registered already 22 solar cycle, counting from the date when such observations have begun. And now already started 24th. The average duration of the solar cycle of about 11 years.
When the electron density in the ionosphere increases, radio waves more and more high frequencies are recognized (wrapped) back to Earth. In other words, the high frequency ranges are most applicable when the electron density is highest - at the moment of maximum solar activity.
As might be expected (and as we see in fact) to the propogation of high-frequency HF-bands at best, very mediocre. Of course, there are occasional intervals with good propogation, because sometimes for a short time on the Sun appears high number of spots (it increases for a short period of the electron density), but such moments a little bit, and the intervals between them are large.
As we are approaching the minimum of solar activity, there is another interesting phenomenon - the geomagnetic field of the Earth becomes more quiet (less outraged by the ionosphere). Interval with quiet geomagnetic field of the Earth lasts for about two years, starting from a minimum of solar activity. Quiet Earth's geomagnetic field favors propagation of radio waves of low frequency bands (but not the only condition for a good propogation of these ranges). That's why enthusiasts are waiting for the low frequency range of minimum solar activity.
24th solar cycle
There is general agreement that the 24th cycle will be like 23rd or even slightly weaker than it. However, there is a publication that predicts that it will be 30-50 percent stronger 23rd cycle. If the majority of the right (the new data yet), it indicates that the propogation in the higher frequency bands at the maximum of solar activity cycle of the new about the same that we had at the peak of the previous one. Maximum of new cycle is predicted at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012.
At the moment, the propogation of HF is gradually improving, it is noticeable by the appearance of stations on HF, and the results of the competition.