Sunspots, Up, then Down, where next

Around February of this year (2011) it finally looked as though the current Sunspot Cycle was taking off, with multiple complex sunspots producing Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) and the sun looking fairly peppered with spots. Four months later, we’ve had a relapse, going by the Laymans Sunspot Count we are falling back into the trough of a quiet sun.

The Quiet Sun

Of particular concern to Radio Amateurs like myself is the fall off in the 10.7 flux associated with sunspots, throughout the last couple of months, it got over 100, now, it’s back in the mid 80’s, a level normally associated with a Solar Minimum, not half way up the ramp to a maximum. So what maximum should we expect? The NASA scientists, led by Hathaway have consistently revised downwards the expected maximum, now it’s around 50, and that’s in 2 years time.

Also the majority of spots seem to be Unipolar, as distinct from complex spots more likely to create CME’s.  As you can see above, just a single spot rotating over the face at the moment

Perhaps someone should tell the sun