Pick of The Week
 
 

Sunspot cycle - on the downward slope (September 5, 2002)

  • Higher resolution version (TIF,3.2M)
  • The number of sunspots has begun slowly to recede again, as we move away from the solar maximum period of peak activity for this 11-year solar cycle. Scientists track solar cycles by counting sunspots and this solar cycle reached its peak level in July 2000. Since then, the number of sunspots and general solar activity has generally declined, though it did attain a second peak around January 2002. Inevitably, the number of sunspots will follow a declining path until the numbers bottom out, sometime around 2006. The sprinkling of sunspots seen here are evidence that the action is not over yet!

    The upper and lower dotted lines represent the higher and lower estimates for sunspot numbers for this solar cycle; the central white line between represents the average of estimates, and the jagged and heavier white line represents the monthly sunspot numbers observed.

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    SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.

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