Posted by BC on September 15th, 2008
Another rumor is debunked. The information on this one comes from Graham Palmer, New Zealand. Palmer keeps members of the Aurora Watch Team posted on solar indices, activity, and aurora potential.
The rumor has been circulating due to the current, very quiet conditions of solar minimum. In the month of August, only one tiny spot was seen by some observatories, and many saw none at all. This low level of activity is the quietest since the minimum which occurred in the mid 1950s. That is what has sparked fears in some people regarding the Sun going quiet.
However, it should be noted that while this minimum is lasting slightly longer than expected, there are strong signs that the next cycle is proceeding as normal. Several magnetic structures have been observed in the past few weeks, and while they have not been strong enough to form visible sun spots, they are a good indication that the Sun’s dynamo is slowly building up for another active cycle in the next few years.
At present, one small spot has emerged into visibility, and at least three other magnetic structures are simmering just below the surface. Also, the prolonged quiet of the 1950’s minimum was followed by the strongest solar cycle of the 20th century. Will that pattern follow this time? I certainly hope so!
For more information, see: Graham Palmer’s web site.