Tag Archives: Sun Spot Cycle

Sunspots are in short supply (and it’s only getting worse)

Not a sunspot to be found. (Credit: SDO/HMI via Spaceweather.com)

Unfortunately, this is not news to brighten your day. According to Spaceweather.com, sunspots are disappearing faster than expected:

Sunspots are becoming scarce. Very scarce. So far in 2018 the sun has been blank almost 60% of the time, with whole weeks going by without sunspots. Today’s sun, shown here in an image [above] from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, is typical of the featureless solar disk.

The fact that sunspots are vanishing comes as no surprise. Forecasters have been saying for years that this would happen as the current solar cycle (“solar cycle 24”) comes to an end. The surprise is how fast.

“Solar cycle 24 is declining more quickly than forecast,” stated NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center on April 26th. This plot shows observed sunspot numbers in blue vs. the official forecast in red:

“The smoothed, predicted sunspot number for April-May 2018 is about 15,” says NOAA. “However, the actual monthly values have been lower.”

Continue reading the full story at Spaceweather.com.

I will be very happy to see sunspot numbers rise again–they eventually will, of course. I’ve almost forgotten what a proper band opening feels like.

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Solar Minimum: A “relatively large” sunspot makes appearance

(Image: spaceweather.com)

(Source: Southgate ARC)

With Solar Minimum right around the corner, sunspot counts are at an almost 10-year low. So it came as a surprise yesterday when a relatively large sunspot emerged near the sun’s eastern limb.

AR2699 has a primary dark core larger than Earth with many smaller magnetic condensations trailing behind it, in all stretching more than 75,000 km across the sun’s surface.

Rare “solar minimum sunspots” are capable of intense explosions just like sunspots during more active phases of the solar cycle.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

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Some scientists believe sun may be crossing into “magnetic middle age”

 (SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels)

(SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels)

I just received the following link to a Forbes article from my buddy Charlie (W4MEC).

If this research turns out to be correct–and time will only tell–it could mean very low solar activity from here on out (let’s hope not!):

(Source: Forbes Magazine via Charlie W4MEC)

The Sun has likely already entered into a new unpredicted long-term phase of its evolution as a hydrogen-burning main sequence star — one characterized by magnetic sputtering indicative of a more quiescent middle-age. Or so say the authors of a new paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Using observations of other sunlike stars made by NASA ’s Kepler Space Telescope, the team found that the Sun is currently in a special phase of its magnetic evolution.

At time of posting, the Sun has no Sun spots at all. The sun is blank--no sunspots, which means very low solar activity. Credit: SDO/HMI (Click to enlarge)

At time of posting (June 28, 2016) the Sun has no Sun spots at all, which means very low solar activity. Credit: SDO/HMI (Click to enlarge)

Heretofore, the Sun was thought to have been just a more slowly rotating version of a normal yellow dwarf (G-spectral type) star. These results offer the first real confirmation that the Sun is in the process of crossing into its magnetic middle age, where its 11-year Sunspot cycles are likely to slowly disappear entirely. That is, from here on out, the Sun is likely to have fewer sunspots than during the first half of its estimated 10 billion year life as a hydrogen-burning star.

“The Sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle is likely to disappear entirely, not just get less pronounced; [since] other stars with similar rotation rates show no sunspot cycles,” Travis Metcalfe, the paper’s lead author and an astronomer at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., told me.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Forbes online.

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Scientists predict sun may ‘hibernate’

Photo Source: NASA

News sources are publishing information regarding new scientific research which puts our sunspot cycle into question. How does this affect the average shortwave listener? Periods of high sunspot numbers generally produce excellent DX conditions. In other words, with modest equipment, listeners can hear even weak signals around the world. Amateur radio operators find that they can communicate around the world with very low power.

Our current cycle (cycle 24) has been relatively uneventful compared to the past–but the prediction for Cycle 25 is scary. Indeed, it may not even happen on schedule. The news sources below explain in detail.

Spaceref.com:
A missing jet stream, fading spots, and slower activity near the poles say that our Sun is heading for a rest period even as it is acting up for the first time in years, according to scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

As the current sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, begins to ramp up toward maximum, independent studies of the solar interior, visible surface, and the corona indicate that the next 11-year solar sunspot cycle, Cycle 25, will be greatly reduced or may not happen at all.

From Yahoo:
For years, scientists have been predicting the Sun would by around 2012 move into solar maximum, a period of intense flares and sunspot activity, but lately a curious calm has suggested quite the opposite.

According to three studies released in the United States on Tuesday, experts believe the familiar sunspot cycle may be shutting down and heading toward a pattern of inactivity unseen since the 17th century.

Science Mag:
Things may be about to get very dull on the sun. Three different measurements of solar activity, reported by scientists at a press conference today, suggest that the next 11-year-long solar cycle will be far quieter than the current one. In fact, it may not happen at all: Sunspots, the enormous magnetic storms that erupt on the sun’s surface as the cycle builds, might disappear entirely for the first time in approximately 400 years.

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