April 14, 2011: If you’ve ever stood in front of a hot stove, watching a pot of water and waiting impatiently for it to boil, you know what it feels like to be a solar physicist.
Solar Activity Heats Up (xflare, 200px)
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this X1.5-class solar flare on March 9, 2011. [movie]
Back in 2008, the solar cycle plunged into the deepest minimum in nearly a century. Sunspots all but vanished, solar flares subsided, and the sun was eerily quiet.
“Ever since, we’ve been waiting for solar activity to pick up,” says Richard Fisher, head of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. “It’s been three long years.”
Quiet spells on the sun are nothing new. They come along every 11 years or so—it’s a natural part of the solar cycle. This particular solar minimum, however, was lasting longer than usual, prompting some researchers to wonder if it would ever end.
News flash: The pot is starting to boil. “Finally,” says Fisher, “we are beginning to see some action.”
The author Dr Tony Philips has been getting more and more sensationalist recently trying to squeeze the last vestige of something out of this very weak cycle. Read Space Weather and look at some past issues to see how the tone is changing. This was NEVER a sensationalist site in the past.
God bless their little cotton socks. Here they are jumping up and down and getting all excited about solar cycle 24 on one page and then shooting themselves in the foot on another. Solar Cycle Prediction
Current prediction for the next sunspot cycle maximum gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 62 in July of 2013. We are currently over two years into Cycle 24. The predicted size would make this the smallest sunspot cycle in nearly 200 years.
So there you have it – the smallest sunspot cycle for 200 years crackling with activity 🙂