A Spotless day is recorded by the LSC which uses the same method as Wolf would have counted in the 19th century. The official sunspot organizations counted 4 groups with a raw value of over 50. The specks counted today are artificially loading the sunspot record.
A spotless day and the overall trend at present approaching or perhaps just past cycle maximum is significant, as well as the shape of the possible future SC24 cycle. We have perhaps never accurately measured the first cycle of a solar grand minimum, but during SC24 we may witness a completely different shape to the cycle instead of the usual bell curve. The SC5/24 comparison graph shows two counts for the same period (SC5 is the first cycle of the Dalton Minimum), the pink line is the final SIDC value that is based on fairly thin records and a large proportion of geomagnetic data working as a proxy record. The dotted black line (Group Sunspot Number) is taken purely from sunspot records but from more observers than utilized in the SIDC value and there are missing days, the current trend is looking more like the GSN values. The GSN values show a very abnormal cycle with an early peak and then a long slow tail off with brief spurts of activity, if SC24 follows this trend it will be a new understanding of 1st cycle activity of a grand minimum that suggests strongly that a severe change is apparent in the normal solar dynamo behavior.
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.
That statement could be applied to the Sun at present and we are supposed to be at or approaching Solar Max – although they have put it back again to October 2013.
Also out is the November prediction from the Marshal Space Flight Centre (NASA).
I never got round to posting the October prediction so here it is: