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Last Post 10/19/2016 9:51 AM by  Christina Cohen
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Rachael S


10/19/2016 7:42 AM

    How come we see almost no sunspots. Seems like they come and go, and not very many. why sometimes there's lots of them, and now there are almost none?

    thank you

    Christina Cohen

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/19/2016 9:51 AM

    The Sun goes through a cycle every 11 years where the north and south magnetic poles swap position. When the Sun is in the middle of this flip it is very magnetically active and complicated. This is typically reflected in the emergence of a lot of sun spots (which are areas of strong magnetic field) and called solar maximum. When the flip is mostly done, the Sun's magnetic field is more ordered and results in fewer (sometimes none) spots. This is called solar minimum.

    Right now we are moving into solar minimum and so there are few spots on the Sun and can be days where there are no spots visible at all. The cycle isn't always exactly 11 years and how active each solar maximum is (which is often reflected in the maximum number of sunspots) can be quite variable. Thus there are a number of scientists that attempt to predict when the next solar minimum and solar maximum will be and how high the maximum will be. It is pretty tough since we don't understand all the physics involved in the cycle and often the predictions aren't quite right.
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