Links to the story “Backward Sunspot” have appeared in quite a few of the maililng lists I subscribe to. Aside from the good news that the backward sunspot may signal the start of a new sunspot cycle, the article is interesting reading.
Here’s something I just learned about sunspots:
“Backward” means magnetically backward. [David] Hathaway, [a solar physicist at the Marshall Space Flight in Huntsville, Alabama] explains:
Sunspots are planet-sized magnets created by the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo. Like all magnets in the Universe, sunspots have north (N) and south (S) magnetic poles. The sunspot of July 31st popped up at solar longitude 65 degrees W, latitude 13 degrees S. Sunspots in that area are normally oriented N-S. The newcomer, however, was S-N, opposite the norm.
Looks like the fun is about to begin.