Saturday, July 19, 2014

Article: Suddenly, the sun is eerily quiet: Where did the sunspots go?

We are in the middle of a sunspot cycle and there should be lots of sunspots, but for several days in a row now there were none.

A strange event, but not unheard of.

This is also a "weak" cycle with below normal levels of sunspots.
"It all underlines that solar physicists really don't know what the heck is happening on the sun," Phillips said. "We just don't know how to predict the sun, that is the take away message of this event."
Donald Rumsfeld
There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.
We know there is a solar cycle of sunspots. We understand some of the mechanisms. But this is a large unknown. It is against predictions and unexplained. "Cool science always generates more questions." 

Wikipedia article: The Maunder Minimum
The Maunder Minimum, also known as the "prolonged sunspot minimum," is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time.

Astronomers... named the period after the solar astronomers Annie and E. Walter Maunder (1851–1928) who studied how sunspot latitudes changed with time.

Like the Dalton Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Maunder Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average European temperatures.
Bonus fact:
The Astronomy of the Bible by E. Walter Maunder (1908). I have read about 2/3's of the book. Herr Maunder was very much a Christian. The book is informative about the Bible, astronomy, and related topics.

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