23 24 Has Begun
The Sun’s disk has been mostly completely blank for two and a half years now, leading astronomers to wonder if this sunspot cycle is nearly the outer reaches of “normal”. Universe Today reports some relief!
Amateur astronomers have observed the first sunspots to appear on the solar surface for weeks. This period of extreme magnetic calm has made some scientists believe that Solar Cycle 23 might be a quiet affair. This comes in stark contrast to NASA’s 2006 forecast that this cycle would be a “doozy.” Whether or not the slow start of solar activity is indicative of things to come, we’re not sure, but it sure is great to see activity starting to churn on the solar surface once more…
If you look closely at the largest view of the image, you can see the spot(s) about 2/3 of the way to the edge at about the 2:30 position. See it? Not tremendously impressive without massive filtering (and even then, only in certain wavelengths), but it’s there.
Update: I stand corrected on the sunspot-cycle number.