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Has Solar Cycle 24 Begun?

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Sun's Next 11-Year Cycle Could Be 50% Stronger

Solar Cycle 24's Severity Unclear

October 9, 2007

Holly Deyo

It may be that the Sun has turned a corner from its former quiet state and is about to enter Solar Cycle 24. For months it has remained devoid of sunspots - the necessary ingredient to signify the next solar cycle.

Photo: Sunspot group 978 continues to grow and it now more than 6 times wider than Earth. Sunspot 978 continues to grow but it does not yet pose a threat for strong solar flares. (SOHO /MDI)

However, sunspots have now reappeared with every day during December and the daily spot count hasn't been this high since mid-July.

If Solar Cycle 24 has begun, then it is about three months early based on last year's expectations from the scientific community.

Scientists are still not certain if this will be the "killer" solar cycle that many have speculated.

You can see from the following graph a wide variance in the predicted high (red line) and the predicted low (orange line) for this next Solar Cycle. We may get off with the normal solar storms, flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), radio reception interference, threats to satellites, power grids and the like ... or, we may get a very nasty smack.

Graph: The official Solar Cycle 24 prediction is for Sunspot Number and begins March 2008.

The graph shows a simple interpolation from the current date to March 2008.