Sunspots  -  more information for the curious....

Sunspot Links, News articles and references:

March 1, 2011

Current prediction for the next sunspot cycle maximum gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 58 in July of 2013. We are currently over two years into Cycle 24. The predicted size would make this the smallest sunspot cycle in nearly 200 years.

March 12, 2010

Solar 'Current of Fire' Speeds Up

What in the world is the sun up to now?

In today's issue of Science, NASA solar physicist David Hathaway reports that the top of the sun's Great Conveyor Belt has been running at record-high speeds for the past five years.

"I believe this could explain the unusually deep solar minimum we've been experiencing," says Hathaway. "The high speed of the conveyor belt challenges existing models of the solar cycle and it has forced us back to the drawing board......


NASA Solar Physics: Marshall Space Flight Center

The number one go-to site for solar information:  this website has tremendous depth.

NASA: Goddard Space Flight Center: Sun/Climate Center

NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center: Solar Cycle Progression

Royal Observatory of Belgium:  Solar Influences Data Analysis Center: Sunspot Index graphics

Solarcycle 24 page

maintained by the Amateur Radio Station VE3EN

This site give daily updates, many visuals, and sunspot trend charts (upper right corner)

NCAR:  National Center for Atmospheric Research

NCAR and university scientists work together on research topics in atmospheric chemistry, climate, cloud physics and storms, weather hazards to aviation, and interactions between the sun and Earth.

March 22, 2009      Chicago Tribune:  WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling

posted on WGN Weather Center Blog


Solar Activity Heats Up

April 14, 2011: If you've ever stood in front of a hot stove, watching a pot of water and waiting impatiently for it to boil, you know what it feels like to be a solar physicist.  NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this X1.5-class solar flare on March 9, 2011.   Back in 2008, the solar cycle plunged into the deepest minimum in nearly a century. Sunspots all but vanished, solar flares subsided, and the sun was eerily quiet.

"Ever since, we've been waiting for solar activity to pick up," says Richard Fisher, head of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. "It's been three long years."  Quiet spells on the sun are nothing new.

They come along every 11 years or so—it's a natural part of the solar cycle. This particular solar minimum, however, was lasting longer than usual, prompting some researchers to wonder if it would ever end.

News flash: The pot is starting to boil. "Finally," says Fisher, "we are beginning to see some action." on.

Oct. 30, 2009

How Long Will Our Sun Remain Quiet and Cosmic Rays Increase?   by Linda Moulton Howe

An interview with Dr. David Hathaway, NASA Heliospheric Team Leader:  “We don’t have records prior to 1874 that give us details about the sun.
Compared to the past 130 years, our sun now is unprecedented as far as
how slow this Solar Cycle 24 is taking off - or not taking off!”

Sept. 3, 2009

NASA Press release:  Are Sunspots Disappearing?

The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing?

August 23, 2009 

Solar update: Heading towards sunspot blank days record for 21st Century

The sunspot-free string will be 44 days as of August 24...only 8 days from tying the sunspot-free consecutive day record during what has already been the most drawn-out solar minimum for just about all humans living on Earth (since 1913).  However, solar physics is still a science very much on the frontier of discovery. I have read some blogs where contributors to “Web” thoughts are quite harsh and quick to weigh in that these missed forecasts show that scientists haven’t a clue about what the sun is doing.

Such viewpoints illustrate poor understanding of what science is all about. It’s a discovery process.....

Dallas Weather Examiner:  Steve LaNore

June 18, 2009

Live Science:  Supercomputers Give Inside Look at Sunspots

"This is the first time we have a model of an entire sunspot,"...

June 17, 2009

NASA Science News

Where have all the sunspots gone? Scientists studying a jet stream deep inside the sun may have found the answer.   FULL STORY at

May 5, 2009

Fox News:  Quiet Sun May Trigger Global Cooling,2933,518958,00.html

May 4, 2009

National Geographic News:  Sun Oddly Quiet -- Hints at Next “Little Ice Age”?

A prolonged lull in solar activity has astrophysicists glued to their telescopes waiting to see what the sun will do next—and how Earth's climate might respond.

April 14, 2009

Harvard Crimson:  Sunspots May Cause Climate Fluctuations

Dr. Soon:  Harvard astrophysicist says recent cooler temps are a result of fewer sunspots

April 11, 2009 

Debate continues on Earth climate change and global warming

Interviews on

Sunspots and the Sun:  
This section of The Old Farmer’s Almanac web site does a very good job of explaining the basics:   
What Is Solar Activity?        
 What is a Solar Cycle? 
 How Does Solar Activity Affect Weather and
 Predictions for Solar Cycle 24                                               Click here.

Sunspots  -  the current cycle and prediction update

Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Update:  July 1, 2013

The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 67 in the Summer of 2013. The smoothed sunspot number has already reached 67 (in February 2012) due to the strong peak in late 2011 so the official maximum will be at least this high. The smoothed sunspot number has been rising again over the last four months. We are currently over four years into Cycle 24. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906.

The red line in the chart below highlights --- very approximately --- the current solar cycle maximum against historical records:  (please keep in mind, our ability to record sunspots has vastly improved over 400 years) 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Institute  -  Marshall Space Flight Center
Solar Cycle Prediction  (updated July 1, 2013) Hathaway