11-year solar cycle begins anew with sunspot reports

Space Science
Solar Cycle

MYSTERY WIRE — The sun is beginning a new cycle.

The positions of recent sunspots herald the change, as the sun moves from its 24th 11-year cycle into its 25th cycle. The first cycle was observed from 1755 to 1766, and the interval has has been fairly regular since.

Here’s a summary from Interesting Engineering:

The solar cycle is a periodic 11-year fluctuation in the Sun’s magnetic field, during which its North and South poles trade places. This has an enormous effect on the number and size of sunspots, the level of solar radiation, and the ejection of solar material comprised of flares and coronal loops.

Predictions indicate the solar minimum — the lowest point of activity for sunspots — will occur in April, and the solar maximum will be around July 2025. The predictions have a 6-month margin of error.

NASA reported in June that this solar cycle is expected to be “weak” — meaning less sunspot activity. Predictions indicate the weakest cycle in the past 200 years, and NASA framed the news as “favorable” for exploration because there would be fewer disruptions in space weather that can affect communications.

Looking at the data in a different light, Interesting Engineering said a “Little Ice Age” between 1645 and 1715 was during a prolonged sunspot minimum.

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