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Astronomers see signs of activity from Solar Cycle 25

Many know that our star, the sun, is in constant flux and that the sun has a regular cycle of some 11 years.

This cycle, produces a period of “quiet” on the sun and a period of fierce activity on the other end.

This solar cycle has been observed for well over 400 years as we are still not sure what the true nature of the sun’s deeper cycles are caused by.

Right now, we are at the end of one of the deepest of solar activity in some time.

During 2019, the sun produced no sunspots for 281 days or 77% of the entire year. This year, 2020, the sun has been blank for 153 days or 71% of the year!

Astronomers around the world have been waiting for signs of the start of Solar Cycle 25.

It appears that a few very small sunspot groups have broken out in the northern hemisphere of the sun, which have the correct (minus/plus) polarity, indicative of a new solar cycle 25.

While this may not seem to be a big deal to the average person, the next solar cycle may produce many active regions, with flare and sunspot groups, along with the dreaded CME (coronal mass ejection) material, which can have a devastating effect on the electronics in our digital world.

The power of a CME is seen in this image.

Here’s what a large CME looks like with Earth in scale.

On another note, the sun transforms huge amounts of energy each second with the wonders of fusion power. Converting some 600 million tons of hydrogen into some 596 million tons of helium each second.

This neatly neverending process known as fusion, will keep our star the sun going for at least another 4 billion years.

There is a downside to all this. As the sun gets older, it will get brighter and thus much hotter and then heat the Earth beyond survival.

Not to worry now! This will not occur for a few billion years.

The long-term forecast is not of much concern, but the next solar cycle should be of concern to all of us.

Will cycle 25 produce more intense solar storms? No one can say for sure, but our world is so dependent on our digital lifestyle that another major solar event, like the great 1859 Carrington Event, would cripple much our modern world.

In that event, the Earth was blasted with energy which actually induced fires in telegraph lines – the internet of the 19th century!

Here is a listing of the “great” solar storms of the past.

There is also recent research into solar storms which occurred during or near solar minimum.

Many do not realize that some of the most powerful solar storms have actually occurred near the low portion of the 11-year cycle.

One such storm was the great solar event of Oct. 30, 1903. This event is described in detail in this story.

Our last example of major solar storms occurred in May 1921, known as the “New York Railroad Storm.”

This was a very powerful storm and needs to be looked at as to the effects on the Earth in a nondigital world.

They were very pronounced!

The point here is that the sun can trigger massive solar flares at any time and we need to, at national plans, to help mitigate the effects of there type of events, even with small measures.

Here are some ideas.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

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