Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A lean sunspot cycle

I have just updated the file of smoothed sunspot numbers for VOAProp, having been informed that NOAA had recently updated its predictions. I see that NOAA is currently predicting that the peak of the next sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, will be reached in July 2012 with a SSN of just 96.4. This compares with a peak of 115.5 for Cycle 23 in November 2001, while Cycle 22 in the summer of 1989 managed over 158. Previous solar cycles have maintained higher SSNs for several years than will be reached by the peak of this one.

Looking back in the table, it seems that conditions will not have been so bad during a solar maximum since Cycle 16 which only managed a peak SSN of 78.1. But in April 1928 there were not too many radio amateurs around to complain about it!
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