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Good news: Looks like we are not entering a Maunder Minimum

Jef - N5JEF
 

Good news worth sharing:  Two sunspots of reverse polarity have been spotted [pun intended], indicating that the current solar minimum should turn around normally and peak in 2025.  This should help put to rest fears that we may be entering another decades-long Maunder Minimum.  :-)

- Jef  N5JEF


TWO SUNSPOTS FROM THE NEXT SOLAR CYCLE: Solar Cycle 25 really is coming. Today, for the first time, there are two new-cycle sunspots on the solar disk--one in each hemisphere. This map of solar magnetic fields from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows their location:

We know these sunspots belong to the next solar cycle because of their magnetic polarity. Simply put, they are backwards. According to Hale’s Law, sunspot polarities flip-flop from one solar cycle to the next. During old Solar Cycle 24, we grew accustomed to sunspots in the sun's southern hemisphere having a -/+ pattern. However, look at today's southern sunspot:

It is the opposite: +/-. This identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 25.

Likewise, today's northern sunspot has a reversed polarity compared to northern spots from old Solar Cycle 24. It, too, therefore, belongs to Solar Cycle 25.

The sun is currently in Solar Minimum--the nadir of the 11-year sunspot cycle. It's a deep Minimum, century-class according to sunspot counts. The scarcity of sunspots has been so remarkable that it has prompted discussion of a possible "extended Minimum" akin to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century when sunspots were absent for decades. Such an event could have implications for terrestrial climate.

Today's new-cycle sunspots (along with isolated new-cycle spots earlier this year) suggest that the solar cycle is, in fact, unfolding normally. A new Maunder Minimum does not appear to be in the offing. Forecasters expect Solar Cycle 25 to slowly gain strength in the years ahead and reach a peak in July 2025.