The 17th Century Maunder Minimum scenario remains in place. Bob Zimmerman

Mar 08, 01:50 AM


(Photo:On Oct. 18, 2014, a sunspot rotated over the left side of the sun, and soon grew to be the largest active region seen in the current solar cycle, which began in 2008. Currently, the sunspot is almost 80,000 miles across -- ten Earth's could be laid across its diameter.

Sunspots point to relatively cooler areas on the sun with intense and complex magnetic fields poking out through the sun's surface. Such areas can be the source of solar eruptions such as flares or coronal mass ejections. So far, this active region – labeled AR 12192 -- has produced several significant solar flares: an X-class flare on Oct. 19, an M-class flare on Oct. 21, and an X-class flare on Oct. 22, 2014.

The largest sunspot on record occurred in 1947 and was almost three times as large as the current one. )

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The 17th Century Maunder Minimum scenario remains in place. Bob Zimmerman

Sunspot update for February 2018

March 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm Robert Zimmerman

It’s time for my monthly sunspot update. On Sunday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, covering sunspot activity for February 2018. Below the fold is my annotated version of that graph.

Sunspot activity in February continued the low activity seen in November, December, and January, with November 2017 still the most inactive month for sunspots since the middle of 2009. In fact, the low activity we are seeing now is somewhat comparable to the low activity seen during the ramp down to solar minimum in the first half of 2008. By the end of that year we had hit solar minimum, the deepest and longest in a hundred years, suggesting that we might even hit solar minimum before the end of this year. That would have this happen at least a year earlier than all predictions.