The Sun has lost its spots – part 3

Sunspot 1024, July 7, 2009

Sunspot 1024, July 7, 2009

Spot-free, July 27, 2009

Spot-free, July 27, 2009

In the first week of July, many observers thought that the long blank solar minimum was coming to an end when a large cycle 24 sunspot group developed.  However, after several days, it was fading away to nothing as the sun’s surface rotated it over the horizon.

Since then, the sun has gone back to being sunspot free, other than a brief period when it appeared that an old cycle sunspot — cycle 23 — was trying to develop. However, except perhaps briefly, it wasn’t observed on visible light images of the sun and, thus, was not counted as an actual sunspot.

Spotless Days

The current stretch of spotless days is 17.

The sun has been spotless just over ¾ of the year to date.  (159 days, 76%)

The sun has been spotless 670 days since the beginning of the current solar minimum in 2004.

In a typical solar minimum, there are about 485 spotless days.

What does it mean?

It depends on who you ask.

Some think that the lack of sunspots is indicative of a quiet sun and a cooling period that may last for 20 to 30 years or more.

Others say that the reduction of the energy from the sun during a solar minimum is only 0.1% and that it will have no impact on the warming of the earth that is taking place.

Time will tell.

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