Here Comes the Sun…Spot

The Sun, as of 19 June 2009. Courtesy of the National Solar Observatory/AURA/NSF.

If you’re a geek like me, you’ve kept your telescopic solar filter on the shelf for more years than you care to remember because of the lack of anything of interest on the sun. Well, time to dust it off. At least, if the scientists at the National Solar Observatory have the right idea.

Scientists have observed that solar activity waxes and wanes on an 11 year cycle. Why? Nobody yet knows. But when solar activity increases, all sorts of havoc gets wrecked onto our satellites and telecommunication systems, and at the same time we see a marked increase in aurora activity. For amateur astronomers, as even professional ones I suppose, increased activity means that sunspots are back. And peering at the sun with a telescope fitted with a high-grade solar filter suddenly becomes interesting again.

Getting back, these scientists theorize that movement of the solar jet stream across the sun’s 22′nd degree of latitude is an indicator of the upcoming switch from inactivity to activity.  And, they just noticed the streams make that crossing, 2 years later than normal.  Which means, if they’re right, we should see sunspots within the next few years.

Source: Science

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