The last week in October will have been quiet with the 'A' index at 5 and the ‘K’ at 2, but there will be a disturbance peaking on the 30th with the ‘A’ index at 15 and the ‘K’ at 4. The next major disturbance will peak on November 7th with the 'A' index again at 15 and the ‘K’ at 4. This should settle back to normal by the 10th. The Solar Flux however should remain at 68, rising to 70 by the 4th November then dropping to 69 by the 13th. (www.wm7d.net)
“New Cycle” Sunspot
On 19th October, a "new-cycle" sunspot belonging to Solar Cycle 24 was emerging near the sun's north-eastern limb. This was the third time in as many weeks that a new-cycle sunspot has interrupted the year's remarkable run of blank suns.
The accelerating pace of new-cycle sunspot production is an encouraging sign that, while solar activity remains very low, the sunspot cycle is unfolding more or less normally. We are not stuck in a permanent solar minimum.
IRTS Radio News Bulletin 19 October 2008 http://www.irts.ie
Space Weather reports that for the first time in months, a significant sunspot is emerging on the solar disk. Its described as a fast-growing active region with two dark cores, each larger than Earth. The magnetic polarity of the sunspot identifies it as a member of new Sunspot Cycle 24. This is viewed as an encouraging sign that the 11-year solar cycle is indeed progressing, albeit very, very slowly. (www.spaceweather.com)
2008, Blankest Year of the Space Age
Astronomers who count sunspots have announced that 2008 is now the "blankest year" of the Space Age. As of Sept. 27, 2008, the sun had been blank, i.e., had no visible sunspots, on 200 days of the year. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1954, three years before the launch of Sputnik, when the sun was blank 241 times.
"Sunspot counts are at a 50-year low," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. "We're experiencing a deep minimum of the solar cycle."
If solar activity continues as low as it has been, 2008 could rack up a whopping 290 spotless days by the end of December, making it a century-level year in terms of spotlessness.
Hathaway cautions that this development may sound more exciting than it actually is: "While the solar minimum of 2008 is shaping up to be the deepest of the Space Age, it is still unremarkable compared to the long and deep solar minima of the late 19th and early 20th centuries." Those earlier minima routinely racked up 200 to 300 spotless days per year. (NASA Science News September 30, 2008)
Jim Linton VK3PC of Wireless Institute Of Australia reports: “The false start announced last year for the new Solar Cycle 24 has been followed up with speculation of things like `double dip' minima and even a new ice age for sunspots. But let's try to stay positive and not subscribe to thoughts of another minimum of 70 years, as occurred from 1645 to 1715, the only flat-lining in sunspot cycles since records.
Looking back at the onset of previous cycles that followed prolonged periods without sunspots, gives indication that Cycle 24 may have a much greater start-up intensity. Should it behave like Cycles 11 to 14 in the 19th century there will be more years rising and a shorter period in decline. The latest prediction is that Cycle 24 will be begin in mid 2009.
The prolonged solar minimum is also occurring at a time of reports in the northern hemisphere of continued sporadic-E enhancement on both the ten and six metre bands.”
Jim Linton, VK3PC. Amatuer Radio Newsline (Wireless Institute Of Australia http://www.wia.org.au/)
Thanks to Mike Terry and Ken Fletcher for regular updates.
Links to these articles and more can be found on my links page: www.jameswelsh.org.uk