Category Archives: Solar Science

Sunspots becoming rarer as cycle heads toward minimum

Bob Zimmerman posts his latest report on the sunspot cycle: The Sun goes quiet! Sunspot update for November 2017 | Behind The Black  

The past month was the most inactive month for sunspots since the middle of 2009, when the last solar minimum was just ending and the Sun was beginning its ramp up to solar maximum.

The sun has a blank look today as well:


Check the HobbySpace Sun & Space Weather page  for daily images and data for solar and space weather conditions.

Here is a sampling of solar/space weather related Twitter feeds:


No spots but the Sun is stormy nonetheless

The sun has gone spotless for the past seven days: – Oct.15.2017.

Nevertheless, there has continued to be solar eruptions leading to brilliant aurora on earth:

NO SUNSPOTS, NO PROBLEM: A minor G1-class geomagnetic storm is underway on Oct. 15th. This marks the 5th consecutive day that polar geomagnetic storms have been observed–a remarkable string considering that there are NO SUNSPOTS on the face of the sun. It just goes to show that blank suns can indeed produce stormy space weather. Arctic sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as the solar wind continues to blow faster than 550 km/s. 

In September the number of sunspots went up a bit but the trend for the year shows a continued downturn towards a minimum in the cycle: Sunspot update for September 2017 | Behind The Black



Solar science: Two giant solar flares today + Update on the solar cycle

A couple of giant flares erupted on the sun today: Two Significant Solar Flares Imaged by NASA’s SDO | NASA

The sun emitted two significant solar flares on the morning of Sept. 6, 2017. The first peaked at 5:10 a.m. EDT and the second, larger flare, peaked at 8:02 a.m. EDT. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured images of both events. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.


Here is Bob Zimmerman’s latest update on the solar cycle and the number of sunspots: Sunspot update for August 2017 | Behind The Black

The long slow decline to solar minimum has now shown itself. Up until now, the ramp down from solar maximum had been fast and steep, unlike past solar cycles where the ramp down is slow and steady. The last few months the ramp down had practically ceased. In this August graph the ramp down turned into a temporary ramp up. Considering the strong activity going on right now as well as the past week, I expect the September numbers to also show this increase.

Views of the solar eclipse from space

Here is imagery of the eclipse as seen from space:


Update: Another GEOS-16 clip:

Update 2: A GEOS-16 clip showing the eclipse shadown moving over the whole northern hemisphere

Update 3: Yet more images of the eclipse from space starting with the view from the DSCOVR satellite, which resides about a million miles from earth:

The ISS didn’t have a great view but could be seen clearly near the far horizon: