Latest Sunspot Stories

2010-03-18 12:25:00

Scientists are learning to predict giant solar storms that could, at any time, hit the Earth and produce cascading catastrophes From Sept. 1 to 2, 1859, the sun blasted out a massive, record-breaking coronal mass ejection (CME)--a huge eruption of highly charged gases and plasma that may have weighed as much as a billion tons. Racing through the solar system at several million miles per hour, the CME eventually collided with the Earth's magnetosphere--an invisible, atmospheric cocoon...

2009-09-03 15:14:15

The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? "Personally, I'm betting that sunspots are coming back," says researcher Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. But, he allows, "there is some evidence that they won't." Penn's colleague Bill Livingston...

2009-08-25 16:00:00

Four hundred years ago on this day, Italian astronomer and philosopher Galilei Galileo unveiled a device that would become a timeless symbol of scientific discovery "“ the telescope. Throughout his lifetime, Galileo would improve upon his first eight-powered telescope model, allowing him to make unprecedented discoveries. After noting that the moon's surface was not glossy and smooth, as well as showing that Venus had a range of moon-like phases, Galileo was seen as an outsider by the...

2009-07-06 23:34:44

Cooler than average weather patterns in the U.S. northeast, attributed to the solar cycle, will likely persist for the rest of the summer, forecasters said. There will be spikes of summer weather, AccuWeather.com reported Monday, but weather patterns that have prevailed so far will probably last. This year represents a low point for sunspots, NASA said. Studies indicate the lower the sunspots, the less bright the sun, which could translate to less heating of Earth, although many other factors...

2009-06-18 15:00:00

First model of entire sunspots shows striking, beautiful detail In a breakthrough that will help scientists unlock mysteries of the sun and its impacts on Earth, scientists have created the first-ever comprehensive computer model of sunspots. The resulting visuals capture both scientific detail and remarkable beauty. The results are published this week in a paper in Science Express. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The high-resolution simulations of...

2009-05-29 16:25:00

An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots. "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78," says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center. "Even a below-average cycle is capable of...

2009-05-28 08:10:00

A U.S.-sponsored study suggests scientists expect a below average number of sunspots between now and 2013, when Solar Cycle 24 will peak. An international panel of experts led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has released a new prediction for at least another year of mostly quiet conditions. If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since...

2009-05-08 15:05:00

The sun may soon begin moving into a more active period for sunspots, although forecasters predict it will be a fairly mild outbreak. But even one significant solar storm can wreak havoc on satellites and electrical systems here on Earth. A weak solar cycle refers to the number of storms, but it only takes one powerful storm to create chaos, according to Doug Biesecker, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) space weather prediction division. Indeed, a...

2009-04-01 13:50:00

The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower. 2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366 days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days: plot. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008. Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st,...

2008-11-07 12:55:00

After two-plus years of few sunspots, even fewer solar flares, and a generally eerie calm, the sun is finally showing signs of life. "I think solar minimum is behind us," says sunspot forecaster David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. His statement is prompted by an October flurry of sunspots. "Last month we counted five sunspot groups," he says. That may not sound like much, but in a year with record-low numbers of sunspots and long stretches of utter spotlessness, five is...

Latest Sunspot Reference Libraries

2004-10-19 04:45:41

Solar Maximum -- The Sun, a roiling ball of plasma, occupies its place in space approximately 93 million miles from Earth. Though it seems simple to inhabitants of this planet -- the Sun shines, giving light and heat -- the processes occurring in the Sun are so complex that many scientists devote their careers to just one aspect of solar activity. Changes in the activity of the Sun particularly engage solar scientists. Whether fluctuations in the solar magnetic field, expulsions of...

2004-10-19 04:45:41

Sunspot -- A sunspot is a region on the Sun's surface (photosphere) that is marked by a lower temperature than its surroundings, and intense magnetic activity. Although they are blindingly bright, at temperatures of roughly 5000 Kelvin, the contrast with the surrounding material at some 6000 Kelvin leaves them clearly visible as dark spots. Interestingly, if they were isolated from the surrounding photosphere they would be brighter than an electric arc. History Apparent references...

More Articles (2 articles) »
Word of the Day
  • A Roman unit of weight, 1⁄1728 of a pound.
  • A weight of four grains used in weighing gold and precious stones; a carat.
  • In anatomy, a formation suggesting a husk or pod.
  • The lowest unit in the Roman coinage, the twenty-fourth part of a solidus.
  • A coin of base silver of the Gothic and Lombard kings of Italy.
'Siliqua' comes from a Latin word meaning 'a pod.'