American Astronomical Society to make ‘major’ solar announcement


Astronomers will unveil a “major result” on Tuesday (June 14) regarding the sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle.

The announcement will be made at a solar physics conference in New Mexico, according to an alert released today (June 10) by the American Astronomical Society. The discussion will begin at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).


I’m not sure what this is, but it may be related to the previous announcement about the collaboration with the Met Office on Space Weather Forecasting for protecting the electric grid.

It is also possible that it is related to Livingston and Penn’s findings or related to the sunspot forecasts that have been constantly changing.

However, given the state of science promotion these days, I’m going with sensationalism, maybe something to justify the new US-UK joint venture.

We’ll see.

h/t to reader Scarlet Pumpernickel

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69 Responses to American Astronomical Society to make ‘major’ solar announcement

  1. Diego Cruz says:

    Could it be that Solar Cycle 24 is ending and Cycle 25 will begin soon?

  2. Bloke down the pub says:

    They’ll probably be giving themselves a pat on the back for how accurate their sun spot predictions have been for sc 24.

  3. Robinson says:

    It’s almost certainly going to be something banal, followed by an appeal for funding.

  4. Anything is possible says:

    “We have found the Solar/ climate link which explains all the observed warming since the Little Ice Age.”

    Anything Is Possible (:-

  5. Alex the skeptic says:

    Maybe there’s too much CO2 in the sun’s atmosphere and it’s warming up.

  6. vukcevic says:

    They are going to blame the ‘L&P effect’ for the failure of their SSN24 predictions.
    (+ although gave a good prediction vukcevic formula is pseudoscience!)

  7. Oatley says:

    Most assuredly an announcement of new modeling proving that man is having a major impact on sunspot activity.

  8. golf charley says:

    The energy output of the sun does vary, but has no effect on planetary temperatures?

    sarc off

  9. John Marshall says:

    Astronomy is concerned primarily with Observation. The Met. Office has stated that observation confuses model predictions and should be discouraged. I cannot see these two being good bed fellows. We will have to see.

  10. Mike McMillan says:

    George Noury had a space weather guy on last night discussing it. Not that I ever tune in to George Noury.

  11. John A says:

    Oh boy, am I sick of “science by press release”

  12. wws says:

    I don’t expect any more out of them than some guy in a white coat pointing at the sky and shrieking “SHINY!”

  13. tallbloke says:

    Leif is at this conference. Which taking place in a town called Sunspot. You couldn’t make it up.

    Maybe he can tell us something?

  14. vukcevic says:

    clue is in the Dr.S’s comment to Geoff in the previous solar thread.

  15. Jack Jennings (aus) says:

    Oatley says:
    Most assuredly … that man is having a major impact on sunspot activity.

    Thanks Oatley, I appreciate these little asides while I smack my head against a wall.

    Chrs JJ

    And thanks Anthony, mods and posters … as usual.

  16. henrythethird says:

    Well, there has been that SORCE (Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment) satellite that has one portion (the Spectral Irradiance Monitor) that breaks down the light and measures the spectrum rather than the total (early tests show that while the TOTAL irradiance is at minimum, portions of the spectrum vary wildly).

  17. Frank K. says:

    Robinson says:
    June 14, 2011 at 2:52 am

    “Its almost certainly going to be something banal, followed by an appeal for funding.”

    I agree. Why do these supposedly august scientific groups have to pull a cheap PR stunt like this? I guess they see the writing on the wall – no one can afford to attend their colleges and universities these days, and government funding will soon be drying up for their bloated science budgets.

  18. Magnus says:

    They found a new positive feedback and will hold a conference to say: OMG it’s worse than we thought!

    …and of course ask for more funding.

  19. Ric Werme says:

    tallbloke says:
    June 14, 2011 at 4:57 am

    > Leif is at this conference. Which taking place in a town called Sunspot. You couldn’t make it up.

    Sunspot NM is the home of The National Solar Observatory and hence a completely reasonable place to have such an event. (Great tours of the equipment, I’m sure.) I suspect the observatory came first and then a town grew up around it, and then split off from Tucson.

    Livingston and Penn work there, but if the news is about “regarding the sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle,” then I’d expect it to be related to what we’re learning thanks to SC24 and not related to the 20 year decline in sunspot field strength. Besides, if it were about L&P, I’d expect the NSO to be touting the news.

  20. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    Has someone worked out that the Sun affects Earth’s climate?

  21. Enneagram says:

    Astronomy: Etymologically, the “science” which names heavenly bodies. Astronomer: An individual who can not explain what he sees: he/she is constantly surprised. :-)

  22. Pamela Gray says:

    I’ll go with science by press release. Which I also hate. Just get to fricken work already.

  23. observa says:

    They have another Astronomical announcement to make on climate change?

  24. 1DandyTroll says:

    After a hundred years of star gazing and deliberation, they will announce that they have finally concluded that good old Sol appears to fit the parameters for actually being a star.

    Next order of business is to decide what type of star it might be. :p

  25. RR Kampen says:

    “The energy output of the sun does vary, but has no effect on planetary temperatures?” – More likely, sunspotcycles do vary, but have virtually no effect on the sun’s energy output.

  26. Fit_Nick says:

    They have realised the Sun is actually bigger than the earth … It’s a ‘perspective’ anomaly…!!
    ‘Sarc off’

  27. Suranda says:

    I reckon NASA is going to finally admit that the Sun does not have a molten core which of course will lead to the admission that the Earth doesn’t have a molten core. Leif is gonna love this one!

    Either way, it will somehow be related to this discovery:

  28. Pascvaks says:

    It’s very likely a NEW Psyentific Discovery that the Sky is REALLY Falling and even though it is a Cover Story for a newly discovered plot by the Martians to invade and take over Planet Earth it will give President Obama the excuse he needs to get a Gulf of Temperature Resolution through Congress so that he can declare Martial Law and put everyone back to work in salt mines (Salt is the only thing that kills Martians). Go figure! Well, it had to happen one day, I guess it’s better now than later. Remember, if they say anything, you say “Yes Massah!” or “No Massah!” and don’t look them in the eyes, they don’t like it when you look ‘em in the eyes.

  29. geo says:

    “The Mayans were right folks –it’s all over next year.”

  30. tallbloke says:

    Sounds like we’d be better off with the Martians in charge. After all, they’d be introducing Martial law too, but at least we’d know where they were coming from.

  31. Ranger Rick says:

    I think they are going to tell us that it would be really really difficult for life on earth if we didn’t have a sun, AND more funding is needed to study this discovery!

  32. DaveR says:

    @tallbloke Not sure what made me laugh more, Martial/n law or we’re not sure where their coming from. ;)

  33. Anthony Scalzi says:

    They couldn’t possibly be saying that Oliver Manuel is right about his iron sun theory?


  34. Chris says:

    The Movie Knowing is coming true!!! we are all gonna burn!! haha.

  35. Grumpy Old Man says:

    C’mon guys, enough sarc, you’re beginning to sound like demented warmists. Let Anthony post the announcement and then comment.

  36. Don says:

    Pluto is a planet again?

  37. the_Butcher says:

    Something about the coming deadly solar winds, I bet.

  38. SteveSadlov says:

    geo says:
    June 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

    “The Mayans were right folks –it’s all over next year.”

    The Mayans were right, but we blew the translation. The world will not end in 2012. However, new phenomena, unlike any previously witnessed by modern sentient Humans, will commence. Hold on tight people.

  39. Skeptic says:

    They will announce the return to old time sound science:
    1. The sun orbits the earth.
    2. The earth is flat.
    3. Burning witches and heretics will solve global warming.
    4. The tax collector will be at your door soon – have money available or else (see 3. above)

  40. Roberto Carioca says:

    I think it may be more about a solar minimum and the possible effects re cooling. I think most of these astronomers DON’T concur with AGW from what I hear

  41. Roberto Carioca says:

    In fact a look around blogosphere suggest this might be a furfy lets see….

  42. tallbloke says:
    June 14, 2011 at 4:57 am
    Leif is at this conference. Which taking place in a town called Sunspot. You couldn’t make it up.
    Maybe he can tell us something?

    Although having a poster there [with Livingston and Penn] I’m actually not attending [just too many conferences], so don’t know. On the program for July 14 at the time of the ‘news’ unveiling the schedule lists ‘Wine and shopping Trips”.

  43. Enneagram says:

    Suranda says:
    June 14, 2011 at 7:23 am
    I reckon NASA is going to finally admit that the Sun does not have a molten core ….
    This is it:

  44. AnonyMoose says:

    According to the wisdom collected in Wikipedia, Sunspot, NM, was named after the solar observatory. The highway is named after the hydrogen H-alpha emission. Causality, not correlation.,_New_Mexico

  45. Suranda says:

    Major drop in solar activity? Was this their major announcement?

  46. AnonyMoose says:

    Looks like got an embargoed press release; they just published that the announcement is that the Sun is surprisingly quiet. Some think the polar magnetic field might not do what is expected, and nobody knows what that would cause. They’re worried that the Sun is going outside their models.

    REPLY: Way ahead of you, see main page – A

  47. Suranda says:

    Decision was made to cancel the press conference. A public summary release will follow.

  48. The press release has this lapse:
    “If the rush to the poles fails to complete, this creates a tremendous dilemma for the theorists, as it would mean that Cycle 23′s magnetic field will not completely disappear from the polar regions”
    Except that the magnetic field at the North Pole has already disappeared: [the blue curve]

  49. GeneDoc says:

    Sun’s Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity

    Hmm, thanks to WUWT, I’ve known that the sun was headed for a low max for quite some time now… nice to see it confirmed and at least partially explained. Still, it’s “unexpected”!

  50. Suranda says:

    Thank you Leif! I can’t get into the astronomical website so I’m following their chat to get info.

  51. Philip T. Downman says:

    Well, here is a NASA release. Could it be the thing?

  52. Laurie Bowen says:

    Or maybe something like this . . .
    New paper explains how climate is ‘unusually sensitive’ to solar and lunar cycles

  53. R. Gates says:

    Very interesting. This will actually be a very good test to see the effects (if any) of increased CO2 once and for all. If the next few decades do indeed turn out to be a Maunder Minimum type of event for Solar Activity and Europe and other places don’t get as cold as they did during that time period, it could show a real clear forcing from CO2. Said another way, if we have a flat-lining of global temps for a few decades, but no real long-term decline, even in Europe, despite a period of a blank sun, what might that say about the effects of the 40% more CO2 we have now than we had then? Suppose we even see a modest continued increase in temps (though perhaps not at the rate of IPCC projections) during a period of low sunspot activity?

    What an exciting time to be alive!

  54. Kay says:

    According to, they’re saying that the sunspot cycle is slowing down and could even go dormant.

    “Some unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles, could be indications that our sun is preparing to be less active in the coming years.

    The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated.

    The results of the new studies were announced today (June 14) at the annual meeting of the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

    The studies looked at a missing jet stream in the solar interior, fading sunspots on the sun’s visible surface, and changes in the corona and near the poles. [Photos: Sunspots on Earth's Star]

    “This is highly unusual and unexpected,” said Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network. “But the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.””

    It goes on to say that some scientists are wondering whether we’re headed for another Maunder Minimum.

  55. Dave Worley says:

    The announcement will be that CO2 carried high into the Earth’s atmosphere by convection is radiating additional Infrared into space and causing the sun to heat up.
    The evidence being a lessening of cooler sunspots, consistent with the simple model.
    Save the sun!

  56. Josh says:

    Looks like they might have gotten it right in predicting the future climate in Fallen Angels:

    I, for one, and looking at property in Arizona.

  57. Here are the abstracts of the three studies referred to in the announcement:

    Large-scale Zonal Flows During the Solar Minimum — Where Is Cycle 25?13
    Frank Hill, R. Howe, R. Komm, J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, T. P. Larson, J. Schou, M. J. Thompson
    The so-called torsional oscillation is a pattern of migrating zonal flow bands that move from midlatitudes towards the equator and poles as the magnetic cycle progresses. Helioseismology allows us to probe these flows below the solar surface. The prolonged solar minimum following Cycle 23 was accompanied by a delay of 1.5 to 2 years in the migration of bands of faster rotation towards the equator. During the rising phase of Cycle 24, while the lower-level bands match those seen in the rising phase of Cycle 23, the rotation rate at middle and higher latitudes remains slower than it was at the corresponding phase in earlier cycles, perhaps reflecting the weakness of the polar fields. In addition, there is no evidence of the poleward flow associated with Cycle 25. We will present the latest results based on nearly sixteen years of global helioseismic observations from GONG and MDI, with recent results from HMI, and discuss the implications for the development of Cycle 25.

    A Decade of Diminishing Sunspot Vigor
    W. C. Livingston, M. Penn, L. Svalgaard
    s Convention Center
    Sunspots are small dark areas on the solar disk where internal magnetism, 1500 to 3500 Gauss, has been
    buoyed to the surface. (Spot life times are the order of one day to a couple of weeks or more. They are thought to be dark because convection inhibits the outward transport of energy there). Their “vigor” can be described by spot area, spot brightness intensity, and magnetic field. From 2001 to 2011 we have measured field strength and brightness at the darkest position in umbrae of 1750 spots using the Zeeman splitting of the Fe 1564.8 nm line. Only one observation per spot per day is carried out during our monthly telescope time of 3-4 days average. Over this interval the temporal mean magnetic field has declined about 500 Gauss and mean spot intensity has risen about 20%. We do not understand the physical mechanism behind these changes or the effect, if any, it will have on the Earth environment.

    Whither goes Cycle 24? A View from the Fe XIV Corona
    Richard C. Altrock
    Solar Cycle 24 had a historically prolonged and weak start. Observations of the Fe XIV corona from the Sacramento Peak site of the National Solar Observatory showed an abnormal pattern of emission compared to observations of Cycles 21, 22, and 23 from the same instrument. The previous three cycles had a strong, rapid “Rush to the Poles” in Fe XIV. Cycle 24 displays a delayed, weak, intermittent, and slow “Rush” that is mainly apparent in the northern hemisphere. If this Rush persists at its current rate, evidence from previous cycles indicates that solar maximum will occur in approximately early 2013. At lower latitudes, solar maximum previously occurred when the greatest number of Fe XIV emission regions* first reached approximately 20° latitude. Currently, the value of this parameter at 20° is approximately 0.15. Previous behavior of this parameter indicates that solar maximum should occur in approximately two years, or 2013. Thus, both techniques yield an expected time of solar maximum in early 2013.
    *annual average number of Fe XIV emission features per day greater than 0.19

  58. Jimbo says:

    Suranda says:
    June 14, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I’ve read the link and you may be right. I found the following interesting:
    This monumental solar eruption may finally challenge the accepted theories about how the key driver of Earth’s climate actually works. Manuel sagely observes, “Although NASA seems to be catching up, after decades of ‘group-think’ it will be very difficult for NASA scientists to comprehend the Sun.”

    Indeed, this latest evidence is unsettling not just for accepted ideas about how our Sun works but it also impacts assumptions of how the Sun effects Earth’s climate. Oliver insists “ Science is a continuous process of ‘truthing’ without ever claiming that you have the ‘whole truth.’”

  59. DCA says:

    Good point. With a cooler climate we will also see a greater need for heating fuel especially for the undeveloped world. There will also be a shorter growing season.

    Would we want to deprive them?

  60. Jimbo says:
    June 14, 2011 at 11:14 am
    Indeed, this latest evidence is unsettling not just for accepted ideas about how our Sun works
    You have been had. There is no such evidence. The iron-sun is pseudo-science.

  61. Mark Wilson says:

    Oh great. A possible new Maunder Minimum combined with volcanoes popping off with greater frequency.
    What could go wrong.

  62. Philip T. Downman says:

    Hey, where is that AGW now? We might need it soon.

  63. Suranda says:

    Dr Svalgaard!!!! Are you softening to the Electric Universe Reality! Hollow Earth, it is!

    I’m going out on a solar limb here, but I think the hollow Earth and hollow Sun are actually heating up. I don’t know about sunspots ~ the data presented may be just trying to confuse us. That’s what they do. Take real data and ascribe it to something fictitious, like emissions causing the Earth to heat up. I think the Earth is heating up, just like the Sun is ~ but that heating is electric in nature. I say this as I am freezing my butt off in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but that is my theory. I think it is going to get very hot worldwide.

  64. Laurie Bowen says:

    Sundiving Comet Storm

    First time, I ever had confirmation of the phenomenon . . . just because this may have been the first time it was observed . . . doesn’t mean never happened before.

  65. Suranda says:
    June 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm
    Dr Svalgaard!!!! Are you softening to the Electric Universe Reality! Hollow Earth, it is!
    Another piece of pseudo-science. I don’t know why you tried to be funny, but you failed.

    Laurie Bowen says:
    June 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm
    Sundiving Comet Storm
    The sun-grazers form a family and it would not be strange that there some lumpiness in their distribution.

  66. Suranda says:
    June 14, 2011 at 10:08 am
    Decision was made to cancel the press conference. A public summary release will follow.
    Hmmm, perhaps some higher-ups were concerned that all this talk of vanishing sunspots would interfere with the attempts to get funding for warning about solar super storms :-)

  67. Don says:

    I swear the word “solar” was not in the title of this thread when I posted they might announce Pluto is a planet again. I know it wasn’t there…It wasn’t there!!!!! gulp…sob…sob… :-(

  68. ferd berple says:

    Dave Worley says:
    June 14, 2011 at 10:42 am
    The announcement will be that CO2 carried high into the Earth’s atmosphere by convection is radiating additional Infrared into space and causing the sun to heat up.

    It is worse than we thought. If it continues the sun will burn up and we will die.

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