Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunspot Count Max Finally Arrives, But 'Mini-Max'

Years ago, in 2008 and 2009 an eerie quiet descended on the sun.  Sunspot counts dropped to historically-low levels and solar flares ceased altogether.  As the longest and deepest solar minimum in a century unfolded, bored solar physicists wondered when "Solar Max" would ever return.

They can stop wondering. "It's back," says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center.  "Solar Max has arrived."

A new ScienceCast video examines the curious Solar Max of 2014.  Play it
Pesnell is a leading member of the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, a blue-ribbon group of solar physicists who meet from time to time to forecast future solar cycles.  It's not as easy as it sounds. Although textbooks call it the "11-year solar cycle," the actual cycle can take anywhere from 9 to 14 years to complete.  Some Solar Maxes are strong, others weak, and, sometimes, as happened for nearly 70 years in the 17th century, the solar cycle can vanish altogether.

And, experts agree that this Solar Max is not very impressive, more a "mini-max."

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/10jun_solarminimax/

Source: NASA Science News.

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