Drawing a Blank (October 14, 2004)
Hi-res TIF image (5.0M).
What is remarkable about this image of the Sun (Oct. 11, 2004)?
Nothing at all. And that precisely is the point. For the first time in almost
six years, the Sun was blank. No sunspots. Not one. Of course, it only
remained that way for a day or two, then one popped up. But it is a
strong reminder that, day by day, the Sun is inexorably approaching its
minimum period of activity in its 11 year solar cycle. The solar cycle
is most usually determined by the average number of sunspots, and here
is a case in point. The actual period of solar minimum will be around
the period of 2006-07, then it will begin its slow climb back up
again. Fewer sunspots translates to fewer solar storms, less "space
weather" in general, and thus, fewer opportunities for seeing aurora.
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.
If your institution would also like to receive the same Weekly Pick from us for display (usually in Photoshop or QuickTime format), please send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.