Two solar scientists—Matthew Penn and William Livingston, with the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona—are predicting that by 2016 there may be no remaining sunspots, and the sun may stay spotless for several decades. They’re basing their prediction on the measurement of the magnetic field strength of 1,500 sunspots since 1990. What they have found is that the average strength of the magnetic fields is declining. When the magnetic field strength falls below a particular value, sunspots are unable to form.
*CALLING ALL HAMS:* No hobby is more sensitive to solar activity and space weather than ham radio. So here is a call to ham radio operators: Is spaceweather.com meeting your needs? We welcome your suggestions to improve our website. Submit ham-friendly ideas here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to a report on the Science@NASA website, researchers think they have discovered the reason behind the dearth of sunspots. At an American Astronomical Society press conference yesterday in Boulder, Colorado, the researchers announced that a jet stream deep inside the sun is migrating slower than usual through the star’s interior, giving rise to the current lack of sunspots.
The good news is that according to their measurements, the jet stream is now finally reaching the critical latitude of 22 degrees, meaning that conditions should return to normal. In other words, no Maunder Minimum, or prolonged period of low sunspot activity, this time around.
Another reason this is good news is that while all this blathering has made for good blog fodder, I’m getting tired of all the complaining. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Hams like to complain about the solar weather, but nobody does anything about it”!