February marked the first month in over a decade in which no sunspots were noticeable. It is well-known that sunspots are select zones on the surface of the sun which are cooler. Their appearance is influenced by the cycle which currently affects the Sun. The average cycle of the Sun lasts for 11 years. After it reaches an apex point, the activity will start to drop until it reaches a minimum level, with the magnetic cycle being 22 years long.
In recent decades, researchers have observed that the Sun isn’t as active as it used to be. The apex periods were quieter than they used to be with the minimum intervals being surprisingly quiet. As expected, the phenomenon has already sparked the interest of conspiracy theorists, with some claiming that the Earth will begin to cool as a consequence.
The Sun entered in an unusual minimum activity cycle
The theories are likely based on an incident which took place almost four centuries ago. During 70 years, scientists didn’t observe sunspots. The period is known as the Maunder Minimum and during the same period a minor “’ice age” affected the northern hemisphere. It was just a coincidence, as later studies noted that the so-called ice age lasted for 350 years, with the Maunder Minimum taking place during the middle of the era.
According to statistics, some 180 sunspots are observed in a cycle. The highest number ever spotted reached 285 during solar cycle 19. The lowest amount for our current cycle is 116. The decrease in solar activity has led some to believe that another Maunder Minimum is approaching, accompanied by an ice age.
NASA researchers have stated that while the number of sunspots is unusually low, it is unlikely that another ice age to come. We are approaching the end of cycle 34, with the next cycle due to begin soon. Some researchers believe that the next cycle will remain as calm as the previous one. Further data is being collected as scientists continue to observe the Sun.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.