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Solar activity now at a low - is it a null before a tempest?

Written by : LAM Hok-yin    June 2006

It was 'nice weather' in space in February 2006. There was no sunspot on twenty-one days of the month, which means we are practically at the low point of a solar cycle. Scientists in NASA, USA are expecting the situation to last until the end of 2006.

A picture of the sun taken Feb. 10, 2006, by the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
(Source: Science@NASA)


A solar cycle is about 11 years. The last solar maximum happened in around 2000. Accordingly, the next solar maximum is expected to occur around 2011. Right now, we are thus in the middle of two solar maxima where solar activities are comparatively low.

Sunspot counts
Sunspot counts from the time of Galileo through the end of 2005. In recent centuries, counts have gone up and down with an 11-year period.
(Source: Science@NASA)


However, scientists at NASA recently forecast that activities may be about 30-50% higher than normal in the next solar maximum. In another words, are we now in a null ahead of a solar tempest? Let's wait and see!


Source: Science@NASA


Last revision date: <19 Dec 2012>