Second Cycle 24 spot a "Tiny Tim" spot

The disturbed magnetic area I mentioned yesterday has finally turned into what appears to be a real sunspot, but it is quite small:

Since magnetograms weren’t available to Galileo, Wolf, and Maunder, I wonder if a spot this small would have been detected in their time? Perhaps many of the spots in the period of the Maunder minimum were just to small to detect?

The solar flux is still quite low at 69, so we have a fairly quiet sun.

UPDATE: The spot remains without a number, and as seen (or not) on the latest SOHO MDI image, it is fading from view. It remains visible on the magnetogram. SIDC has a writeup about it here.

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Michael Ronayne
April 13, 2008 6:06 pm

You are absolutely correct; it is still only viable on the Magnetogram and the Mt. Wilson Magnetogram is not showing anything. But just think how frustrated the SWPC Wise Men in Boulder Colorado must be at this very moment! They know it is a SC24 sunspot but they can’t call it. They must have every real-time instrument at their disposal focused on the plage region right now and all they can do is sit and wait just like the rest of us. All those billion dollar toys and no one to play with.

Bob Tisdale
April 13, 2008 6:53 pm

TSI continues to drop.
Note: SORCE TSI readings are less than ACRIM and PMOD.

Bill in Vigo
April 13, 2008 7:09 pm

Hmmmmmm kinda looks like a sun spec huh

Michael Ronayne
April 13, 2008 7:43 pm

An old equatorial SC23 sunspot # 0987 may be coming into view.

April 13, 2008 9:25 pm

If “north” is on the left, and is colored white in the magnetograph, and if “south” is on the right, and is colored black — then what makes the polarity different from cycle 23?
Here is why I ask. The picture at the link below shows the January 2008 cycle 24 spot along with what appears to be a large spot from cycle 23. (I say “appears” because it looks just like some others, even though it isn’t labeled.)
Next is a link to a picture of 3 spots from cycle 23 — note the apparently identical polarity relative to the January 2008 spot.
So what am I misunderstanding? The “old” looks just like the “new” to me, except for the size, of course, and the “latitude.” I must be looking at the wrong thing, since everyone else seems to see reversed polarity comparing cycle 23 to 24.

April 13, 2008 10:08 pm

What a mess; solar cycle 24 was supposed to be a big one, but now that seems to be fading; original predictions for 25 being very inactive are still uncorrected. PMOD shows a declining trend for TSI; if that trend continues, and if sunspot activity remains low then a double whammy is incipient with less UV and X-ray heating in the upper atmosphere and more cosmic ray activity generally. An interesting compromise to the Svesgard/ Friis-Christensen model is NASA’s contention that a significant amount of incident CR’s have a solar origin, which in turn is dependent on solar flare and sunspot activity. NASA seem to be saying that a reduction in solar activity will not necessarily see an increase in CR’s because the sun is the main source of CR’s, and therefore any cooling through the Svensgard model based on a non-solar source of CR’s available through a reduced solar magnesphere will be muted.

Gary Gulrud
April 13, 2008 11:47 pm

I believe that should be “NASA, what a mess”. Hathaway for one used 2 very distinct paradigms for his 24 and 25 predictions.
The former, a geomagnetic pulse about 6 months following prior cycle’s SSN max seemed strongly correlated with the following SSN max. Curious, but the idea being that a given solar dynamo state seeds the next state. Obviously, this works great, except when it doesn’t.
Sometime after that prediction went wrong, April 2007? he used a version of the Schatten model for his 25 prediction.

April 14, 2008 1:52 am

I’ve just added PMOD to WoodForTrees (ACRIM to follow) and there is a definite recent drop:
Monthly averages:
Annual running mean:
… and compared to sunspot number:
REPLY: Thanks Paul, splendid!

Michael Ronayne
April 14, 2008 2:53 am

The sun-speck is not growing. Even twenty-two years ago, without SOHO this event would not even have been observed. It also looks like sunspot # 0987 did not survive the trip around far-side. So the sunspot count is still Zero. Well, the grass in my law is growing so I can watch that!
I wonder if we are looking at a new class of events which were not previously observed. SOHO did not become operational until May 1996, so did it see anything like this during SC22-SC23 transitions? Also SOHO was not operational from June 1998 to February 1999 so it missed much of the start of SC23.
SOHO only had a mission life expectancy of two-years at launch. I hate to say this but is anyone aware of any backup plans for another SOHO at L1 or new missions at L4 or L5? I would very much like to see a mission to L3 to observe Far-side but you would need relays at L4 and L5 first. If we are heading into a Gore Minimum event, NASA had better get new birds flying and soon.
I checked the news feeds and no announcements from NASA, NOAA, SWPC, etc

Pierre Gosselin
April 14, 2008 3:24 am

Cycle 23 sunspot ?
I see a tiny spot the size of a pixel at the equator, about 1/5 of the way in from the left, on the April 14 at 00:00 image. Or is that a visible nothing?

April 14, 2008 3:33 am

I’m with Micajah, I haven’t been able to see any difference other than the latitude. What are we missing?

April 14, 2008 6:20 am

The warmists are pinning their hopes on sunspots and solar activity like this. I think I am going to start running my car an extra hour a day and burn some extra wood in my outdoor fireplace to help them out. 🙂

Evan Jones
April 14, 2008 7:35 am

And then there’s the Gleissberg model . . .

April 14, 2008 8:25 am

“So what am I misunderstanding? The “old” looks just like the “new” to me, except for the size, of course, and the “latitude.” I must be looking at the wrong thing, since everyone else seems to see reversed polarity comparing cycle 23 to 24.”
You’re missing the fact that the polarity switches as the equator is crossed, you compared N & S hemisphere spots.

April 14, 2008 9:58 am

Thanks, Phil. That’s got to be it. I guess I need someone to draw me a line at the sun’s equator, so I can see which is which. Here is a photo I just found that shows spots in both hemispheres with different polarity in the different hemispheres:

Pierre Gosselin
April 14, 2008 10:26 am

Who says we can’t use anecdotes as an indication of cooling?
If their frequency increases, then we can say it’s a trend.
Via Drudge:

Michael Ronayne
April 14, 2008 10:41 am

The dot in the SOHO MDI image is fading and is down to only one pixel if it is there at all. I think is gone! is reporting the same thing.
SOHO Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI)
The only good image of the sun-speck is on the Photospheric longitudinal magnetograms at Kitt Peak AZ.
I suspect that this sun-speck is fading and will not be classified as a sunspot, unless SWPC does so posthumously in desperation. There are people at NASA and NOAA who have a lot at stake with the AGW confidence game but if they call this one wrong and voters start getting real cold next winter, their AGW fellow-travelers in Washington will stage show trials which will make Spanish Inquisition look like a walk in the park. Dear voters, it was not our fault; the evil scientist deceived to all of us. Washington will then pass the CO2 Enrichment and Fairness Act to encourage the generation of CO2, increase our taxes and subsidize private jets for billionaires. It is always about increasing taxes and giving the Pigs more power.

April 14, 2008 11:25 am

Phil, thanks for reminding me about the equator! The recent cycle 23 spots were so close to it that I hadn’t considered the north/south hemisphere reversal.

Texas Aggie
April 14, 2008 11:33 am

Mike, switch to decaf.

Pierre Gosselin
April 14, 2008 11:48 am

Sorry off topic
Here’s a short video from German television with Schellnhuber titled.
“Klimakiller Mensch” (Climate killer man).
Yes, we all have been charged, tried and found guilty of climate murder, without the chance to offer a defence.
I’m going to check if I can sue German television for libel. They can’t label me a murderer. They go around calling everyone murderers – based on what? This is getting way out of control. Humanity now being labelled a pest.
REPLY: Libel laws generally don’t apply to broad labels for mankind. That would be quite a stretch.

April 14, 2008 12:01 pm

Trying times are coming. Very few alive today have any experience with such times.

Jim Arndt
April 14, 2008 12:52 pm

Well over at SOHO the sun just flat lined.
STEREO doesn’t show much either except a possible SC23 spot coming on.

Michael Ronayne
April 14, 2008 12:59 pm

I just built my own MDI animation from the GIF files in this directory.
I ran it forward slowly from 2008/04/11 and the sun-speck is definitely gone in the last frame posted today. The complete archive for today will not be available until after midnight. Date/time stamps are in lower left corner. Once I have the complete archive for today, I can pinpoint when the sun-speck appeared and disappeared. You really need better than1024x1024 graphics to see anything.
Some of the NASA animations are too long, don’t slow down for the interesting events or are not in high resolution. If we are going to be looking at events this small we will need better control of time sequence and I will need a higher resolution monitor.

April 14, 2008 3:33 pm

It’s number 990 according to NOAA:
REPLY: “Region 990 is consistent with a new cycle sunspot.” if how the phrase it.

Jim Arndt
April 14, 2008 5:36 pm

Anthony I know they are desperately try to find SC24 spots but this is a stretch. If you look at STEREO there is a equatorial spot about to appear which is much larger than this spot. Also look at SOHO, there is 0 activity. I have not seen it this low as of yet. SC24 spot and no activity on the monitors, well this is indeed an interesting time to be here.

Michael Ronayne
April 14, 2008 6:28 pm

I accessed the SOHO Near Realtime Data at NASA and have 1024×1024 animations for MDI Continuum and MDI Magnetogram images from 2008/04/11 to present. Since early this morning the sun-speck is only clearly visible in the MDI Magnetogram images. In today’s MDI Continuum images you can only discern the sun-speck by its motion as a slightly off color single pixel in a 1024×1024 filed. At this time it is fading into the background. SWPC should have called it yesterday when it was still clearly visible. As I speculate earlier, a posthumous elevation to sunspot status. Reminds me of the hurricane NOAA discovered last year, two months after it was over. If your predictions are off manufacture new events. Well, there is a limit to how many times they can do this. From the graphics at everyone in the US is falling into line. Interestingly Belgium has not yet tagged the sunspot but I am sure they will.
Twenty-two years ago I suspect this would have been a non-event. Given SWPC’s ability to identify events which would have gone unnoted in the past, how can we compare current data with the historic record? It will be interesting to see what sunspot count is assigned.
I will see if I can get the very large animated GIF files uploaded.

Michael Ronayne
April 14, 2008 8:08 pm

According to SWPC gave it a value of 11 (10+1) which I believe is the lowest score which can be assigned under the scoring system. The event is automatically scored a 10 and then a 1 for each spot which can be identified. I don’t believe the scoring system was even intended to grade something this small. Belgium is now updated with the 990 number.
No luck finding a “free” hosting service which will upload 15MB GIF files. I would appreciate any tips.

Brian D
April 14, 2008 8:18 pm

Boy, they sure are desperate. All indices show as though nothing was there.
But, I guess a spot is a spot, no matter how small.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but a spot can’t be numbered unless it is also observed from other sources around the world for confirmation. I remember reading that somewhere.

April 15, 2008 1:04 am

(Off topic, but I’ve just been watching the German TV report from ARD, linked to by Pierre Gosselin yesterday, the 14th, at 11:48:19.
Pretty standard “We’re all doomed! doomed!” stuff – complete with a cuddly polar bear, melting glaciers, ever warmer winters etc. Curiously, Schellnhuber completely forgot to mention the bitterly cold winter we had in Germany in 2006 – the coldest in living memory, that seemed to go on for ever.
Come to think about it, that’s probably because that was “Weather” and so can be ignored , as opposed to the last 2 mild winters – which are clearly “Climate”, and thus a taste of things to come).

April 15, 2008 1:16 am

Mike: – I think their free ‘Lite’ service allows pretty big files.

Pamela Gray
April 15, 2008 6:55 am

Paul: Nice data re: TSI and snn. Now if you can add cosmic ray measures taken at the planetary level to demonstrate the reverse relationship between solar hi/low output and planetary low/hi bombardment, that would be cool.
Any chance we can get decadel ocean stuff too?

April 15, 2008 7:26 am

I’ve got a problem calling this an official spot with a number and everything. How long ago would this have not even been seen at all? Which immediately begs the question: Is the increase in sunspot activity in the last half of the 20th century real, or do we just have better methods to see spots we couldn’t see before? Kinda like the mythical increase in tornadoes, when it’s really just better radar allowing us to identify more of them.

Jean Meeus
April 15, 2008 8:26 am

Sunspot numbers
Michael Ronayne wrote:
“According to SWPC gave it a value of 11 (10+1) which I believe is the lowest score which can be assigned under the scoring system. The event is automatically scored a 10 and then a 1 for each spot which can be identified. ”
One might think that the relative sunspot number (or Wolf number) is given by R = 10*g + f, where g is the number of sunspot groups and f the number of individual spots. In that way, one single spot would indeed count for 11, as it is one group + one spot.
But actually the formula is R = k(10*g + f) where k is a factor used to reduce R to what would be seen if a telescope were used having the same size as the small instrument used by Wolf. Generally, k is smaller than 1. This is why values of R between 0 and 11 are possible. For instance, SIDC (Belgium) gives R = 7 for the dates 3 to 5 August 2007.

Michael Ronayne
April 15, 2008 8:37 am

For 2008-04-13 and 2008-04-14 I merged the MDI Continuum and MDI Magnetogram images in chronological order and effetely created an animated Blink Comparator between the Continuum and Magnetogram images. On the leading eastern edge of the magnetic anomaly there is a tight black spot at the center of the advancing vertical lines of magnetism. This is exactly where the Continuum image shows the sunspot to be. As you Blink between the two images you can just barley track the sunspot. Without the Blink Comparator I would never have been able to track the sunspot after the afternoon of 2008-04-14. I am using the highest resolution (1024×1024) images which NASA makes available.
On 2008-04-14 between 16:05 and 16:15 it looks like a second sunspot attempt to form over a magnetic spot to the west of the leading edge. The first spot was already fading in the Continuum image and the second sunspot appeared to fail within hours.
NASA is very punctual about making near-real-time and daily compresses archives available. The daily compressed archived are generally available within 10 minutes after midnight NASA time.
This has been a very useful exercise and I will be ready for the next one!

Micahel Ronayne
April 15, 2008 11:02 am

Load the following animation to see the event which occurred on 2008-04-14 between 16:05 and 16:15 where a second sunspot was attempting to form. For best viewing you may need a high-res LCD monitor.
In IE v6 and v7 you should be able to expand the image to its full 1024×1024 size, even if it doesn’t fit on the screen. You only need to view the upper left corner.
To stop the animation press “Esc” to resume press “F5”.
The full animation which is much too big to upload here is quite impressive. I am sure the boys and girls at NASA has many wonderful toys much better then this.

Micahel Ronayne
April 15, 2008 11:46 am

This is an earlier comparison when the sunspot was larger and clearly visible. There is approximately a one hour difference in time between the two images which is why there is a small displacement.

Gary Gulrud
April 15, 2008 1:57 pm

Jean Meesus:
This formula you report is not the SESC formula to which many of us are accustomed.

Michael Ronayne
April 15, 2008 2:58 pm

A Blast From The Past
I went into NASA SOHO archives to download and examined the high resolution (1024×1024) images for the first SC24 sunspot #981 which was first observed on 2008/01/04 and persisted for three days. Here are the results.
Images used in NASA Press release 2008-01-04 14:24 & 14:28
Best images from 2008-01-05 06:24 & 06:26
In the image from 2008-01-05 there are three clearly desirable sunspots and three to four smaller sunspots.
Note this little gem in the NASA press release,
Solar Cycle 24 Begins
“Sunspot 981 was small–only about as wide as Earth, which counts as small on the grand scale of the sun–and it has already faded away. But its three day appearance on Jan. 4-6 was enough to convince most solar physicists that Solar Cycle 24 is underway.”
If sunspot #981 was “small” how should NASA characterize sunspot #990?

Jim Arndt
April 15, 2008 5:43 pm

I ask Leif Svalgaard and this is what his answer was over at CA comment #120.

Michael Ronayne
April 15, 2008 7:01 pm

Mt. Wilson is reporting no sunspots for Tuesday April 15, 2008.
Look at the four day record.
Activity was reported only on 2008-04-13 and 2008-04-14, which is what I am seeing in the SOHO images. This is a 24 hour wonder and the region is back to being an active plage but still has a sunspot count of 11 from some sources. I ran an animated Blink Comparator for all SOHO images for 2008-04-15 and could find no sunspots, Mt. Wilson is correct. I will concede NASA an active SC24 plage and one pathetic sunspot between 2008-04-13 and 2008-04-14 with an undeserved score of 11, but the rules are the rules. The plage could always develop another sunspot so it must be watched.
There is a nice write up on Mt. Wilson. Their big problem is clouds!
Mt. Wilson The 150-Foot Solar Tower Sunspot Drawing

Michael Ronayne
April 15, 2008 8:38 pm

To: Jean Meeus,
Thank you for the calcification on the calculation of sunspot values. I will check on the 3 to 5 August 2007 dates you referenced for counts below 11. Are there any other dates which dates which may be of interest or online examples? I would like them for future reference. I can turn one of these animations around within a few minutes and would appreciate as much background material as I can lay my hands on. I suspect we are going to be doing this for much of 2008. Is there any good reference material available? I don’t want to become an astrophysicist but would like some basic background information on scoring sunspots.
NASA has an incredibly good image database available. I wonder if they have images with a higher resolution than 1024×1024?
Based on the two Blink Comparator graphics I provided for sunspot #990 what do you think of the score of 11 which NASA assigned? As I indicated in another post the sunspot #990 did not last much longer than 24 hours and was very difficult to track towards the end. SC24 sunspot #981 was much better defined and lasted longer.
If you are looking at the animations be sure to expand the image size in IE to a full 1024×1024. You can always stop an animation be pressing “Esc” and restart it with “F5”. On a restart you will have to resize the image again.

Michael Ronayne
April 15, 2008 9:35 pm

To: Jean Meeus,
I have looked at the SOHO data for August 3 to 5, 2007. Relative to SC24 #981 and #990, the August 3 to 5 sunspot is a single sport which is relatively large and well defined. By August 6 it had gown to three well defined spots. If the sunspot for August 3 to 5, 2007 was a 7, #990 should be a 1 or 2.
Over at they just increased the value for #990 from 11 to 12! The source of the change is Belgium which is reporting one group with two spots. I just looked at the SOHO images which are less than 10 minutes old and there is nothing there!
I am going to have to do some serious fact checking on this. This is becoming quite strange. I will upload some more Blinks in the morning. I am not buying any of this.

April 16, 2008 3:30 am

Maybe they believe that they can prevent the planet from cooling by artificially inflating the sunspot number.

Michael Ronayne
April 16, 2008 5:49 am

To: Jean Meeus,
I have been checking on the 3 to 5 August 2007 dates you sighted as having a sunspot number of 7 for a single event and verified the accuracy of your report based on the SOHO images and sunspot numbers shown on this page and referenced as “DAILY SUNSPOT NUMBERS”
I have also found other, equally official, pages which report a value of 11 for the same dates, referenced as “SESC Sunspot Number”.
Clearly there are at minimum, two methods of calculating sunspot numbers which may not be in agreement or more likely being used for different purposes. We are trespassing on the reserve of a small private club and I am sure the club members understand the rules but we may not. As we are in a period of very low solar activity, care will be required when referencing anything called a “sunspot number” because every digit counts.
Over at they use the abbreviation “SSN” which based on usage I now believe stands for “SESC Sunspot Number” not “SunSpot Number”. As I indicated, a small private club. I am starting to understand why values at this website are not in agreement with those at SWPC.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I have a lot of reading to do.

April 16, 2008 10:40 am

“Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!”

Jean Meeus
April 16, 2008 11:59 am

To Gary Gulrud and Michael Ronayne:
I don’t know what SESC numbers are. The numbers I gave for 3-5 August 2007 are the “SIDC Definitive International Sunspot Numbers”, also called Wolf numbers or Relative sunspot numbers. They belong to a series that started at Zurich, Switzerland, in the middle of the 19th century. For more information, see
For your information, here are the definitive numbers for August and September 2007.
0 on August 1-2,
7 on August 3-5,
8 on August 6-7,
9 on August 8-10,
8 on August 11-13,
0 on August 14-20,
9 on August 21,
8 on August 22-30,
17 on August 31,
14 on September 1,
8 on September 2-5,
0 on September 6-27,
9 on September 28-30.
From the daily numbers, monthly means are deduced, then smoothed monthly means and yearly means. It’s these yearly numbers that are generally used in graphs showing the evolution of the sunspot activity in the course of the years.

Pamela Gray
April 16, 2008 7:37 pm

I think we might be missing some very important areas of discussion when we call the sun “quiet”. At minimum, the sun can be VERY destructive here on earth. Several damaging components of cosmic rays never reach planet earth when the sun is shooting its substance out on a daily, hourly, or second by second rate. But when it is seemingly not shooting anything out, it is actually sending all its nuclear power right down to the soil we stand on (or concrete, for those of you unfortunate enough not to live in northeast Oregon). I think the earth-bound measurements of the various components of cosmic rays during minimums are rich with potential cause/effect information. I wonder if a post can be generated regarding what the sun is capable of doing in its supposed slumber?

Brian D
April 16, 2008 8:36 pm

Now looks like a cycle 23 spot(s) are coming around. Should know in the next day or two.

Pamela Gray
April 17, 2008 7:27 pm

We could be having quite a discussion about this ACTIVE sun! Take a look at the following:

Pamela Gray
April 17, 2008 8:52 pm

An even better easier to read article:
Amazingly, we don’t have a lot of measuring devices that look at solar minimum effects. It’s as if we are attracted by what is bright and shiny but iignore what is ominously quiet. The sun (and all the other suns out there), are nuclear devices. Ours protects us when it is active (and it has been VERY active this century, having doubled its protective shield). However, it now sleeps and our shield has been lowered. As a result we are being bombarded by not only our own sun’s stuff, but all the other stuff from other stars. I would REALLY love to get my hands on atmospheric aerosols (like water vapor, not from my hairspray) that are in the air since we started noticing the sun was about to take a snooze.

anna v
April 22, 2008 10:03 pm

A link for Micajah (21:25:25) :, on how to view magnetograms of the sun
In a nutshell, the old cycle is dark on the left white on the right in the northern hemisphere, and white on the left dark on the right in the southern, as we view the magnetogram and call the top the northern hemisphere by the earth convention.
For the new cycle to appear, there shoud be white on the left dark on the right in the northern hemisphere, and black on the left white on the right in the southern.

May 5, 2008 11:35 pm

I have just booked my 2008/2009 winter holidays for London as I have always wanted to go to a Thame Frost Fair!

June 28, 2008 1:50 pm

[…] quiet. It has now been almost 2 and a half months since the last counted cycle 24 sunspot has been seen on April 13th, 2008. There was a tiny cycle 24 ”sunspeck” that appeared briefly on May 13th, but […]

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