Feeds

Solar Cycle 24 is go: Official

Sunspot 981, come on down

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Scientists are poised to confirm that a "modest knot" of high-latitude, reversed-polarity magnetism spotted last December on the Sun has become a full-blown sunspot heralding the beginning of Solar Cycle 24:

NASA image of Sun showing magnetically-reversed high-latitude active region

The sunspot, dubbed 981, marks the end of a lull in sunspot activity as Solar Cycle 23 passed away quietly, having peaked with "many furious storms" during solar maximum in 2000-2003:

NASA graph of number of sunspots between 1994 and now

Opinion is divided as to whether the predicted solar maximum of Cycle 24 in 2011 or 2012 will be a modest affair or have "significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems". If it's the latter, you may well have to rely on a map to get you to the best spot to enjoy one of the spin-off effects of ferocious solar activity - the free aurora lightshows.

Solar cycles end as sunspots migrate towards the sun's equator to die. The first sign of the next cycle is a new "high-latitude" sunspot, at around 25 to 30 degrees latitude, and whose magnetic polarity is the reverse of those of the previous cycle.

The transition between cycles, which sees a reversal of the sun's global magnetic field, is not an overnight affair. Sunspots of the old cycle gradually disappear while those of the new regime grow in numbers, and both can co-exist during the handover marking the end of the average 11-year cycle. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.