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The Sun is Undergoing a State Change by James A. Marusek
Tuesday, March 16th 2010, 7:31 PM UTC
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
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Figure 1. Image of Solar Cycle 23 from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) by Steele Hill (NASA GSFC)


Each morning, I turn on my computer and check to see how the sun is doing. For the past several years I was normally greeted with the message "The sun is blank - no sunspots." We are at the verge of the next sunspot cycle, Solar Cycle 24. How intense will this cycle be? Why is this question important? Because there are “Danger Signposts” ahead!

Sunspots are dark spots that appear on the surface of the sun. They are the location of intense magnetic activity and they are the sites of very violent explosions that produce solar storms. The sun goes through a cycle lasting approximately 11 years. It starts at a solar minimum when there are very few sunspots and builds to a solar maximum when hundreds of sunspots are present on the surface of the sun and then returns back to a solar quiet minimum. This cycle is called a solar cycle. We are currently in a solar minimum leading up to Solar Cycle 24, so named because it is the 24th consecutive cycle that astronomers have observed and listed. The first cycle began in March 1755.

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