Nearly Spotless (March 17, 2006)
Hi-res TIF image (630K).
The full disk of the Sun on March 14, 2006 is almost entirely lacking in sunspots, just one tiny one is visible. And if one were to view a movie of the Sun in visible light for the past six weeks and more, it would look almost exactly the same as this image. There have been no sunspots of any real size over this entire period, and therefore very little solar storm activity.
In the Sun's 11-years solar cycle, the Sun has probably gradually sliding into its period of solar minimum. Various indicators suggest that is not there yet. We still could see some solar storming, but in general the Sun will most likely be fairly quiet for another year or more.
New models for predictions just announced this week estimate that the next solar maximum (around 2012) will be 30% - 50% stronger than the last one. Estimates as to when the Sun will begin to become more active again vary from early 2007 to early 2008. But for now, it looks like we got plenty of nothing.
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.