Why is a lack of sunspot activity interesting? During the period from 1645 to 1715, the Sun entered a period of low activity now known as the Maunder Minimum, when through several 11- year periods the Sun displayed few if any sunspots. Models of the Sun’s irradiance suggest that the solar energy input to the Earth decreased during that time and that this change in solar activity could explain the low temperatures recorded in Europe during the Little Ice Age.
Solar activity is at very low levels and the visible disk remains spotless for the 17th day in a row, making a total of 33 days in 2020 or 66 percent — we are still in a Solar Minimum, which is expected to end sometime this year.
As a result of weakened Sun’s magnetic field in this very deep Solar Minimum, deep-space radiation is easily entering our solar system and affecting all planets within it, Earth included.
In February 2020, cosmic radiation is again reaching a percentage point of the Space Age maximum set in 2009/10 near the end of previous Solar Minimum, also very deep as this one.
In 2019, the Sun was blank for a total of 281 days or 77%, breaking the Space Age record for most days without sunspots in a year.
The previous record was set in 2008, with 268 blank days.
“That was during the epic Solar Minimum of 2008-2009, formerly the deepest of the Space Age. Now 2019 has moved into first place,” Dr. Tony Phillips of SpaceWeather.com said.
“Solar Minimum is a normal part of the 11-year sunspot cycle. The past two (2008-2009 and 2018-2019) have been long and deep, making them ‘century-class’ Minima. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days.”
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