DR. SKY BLOG

Solar cycle 25 is well underway in 2021 with sunspot action

Mar 17, 2021, 2:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

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.

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 has 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.

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 nearly never ending 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 what a CME looks like.

Here is the list of major solar flare events.

Our next example of major solar storm 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.

And finally, the last major solar storm to effect the power grid, was a major flare and CME event, which occurred back on Mach 13, 1989.

This storm had a major effect on the power grid in Canada and the details of this event are listed here.

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

These major solar events seem to occur with a period of some 30 to 35 years apart.

When is the next major storm??

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.

Some closing thoughts on how to protect the power grid, etc.

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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Solar cycle 25 is well underway in 2021 with sunspot action