With solar cycle 24 being so low in sunspots there has been longstanding doubt about when the solar maximum will actually occur. NASA has confirmed that the solar maximum for cycle 24 will arrive before the end of 2013.
At a solar maximum the Sun’s magnetic field flips over, altering its polarity. From that point the sunspots decline as we head into the minimum which usually occurs some 11 years after the maximum.
This decline could see long periods without sunspots. There are usually days when no sunspots appear as the countdown to the solar minimum continues but as cycle 24 has generally been very weak this could well be more pronounced than usual.
You can read more about how the field flips here.
Todays sunspot count is once again very lower for this part of a cycle with 59 spots. None of them are active at this point. NOAA give a very small chance of either an M-class or X-class flare over the next 24 hours.
There are no coronal holes Earth facing today.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!