More Tiny Tims and Cycle 23 solar crackles

The sun recently displayed some impressive prominences, and at the same time produced another “tiny tim” cycle 24 spot that seems to have escaped notice. Michael Ronayne helps with a blink comparator image that helps spot it.

No number has been assigned as yet but he had an interestig exchange about it with Dr. Leif Svalgaard, on the message board of Here is what Dr. Svalgaard answered with when queried about the tiny tim spot and the random missed updates of solar MDI images from NASA:

1: the tiny spot didn’t get a region number, so doesn’t count.

2: MDI images are not unreliable. It is just the people that are lazy putting them on the Web. You may have noted that they often are not updated on weekends.

3: No backup needed. What is needed [and not available] is money to pay someone to process the data and to make them available. You must learn one thing about NASA: it is not about science, but about funneling money from taxpayers to hardware manufacturers.

Meanwhile, a crackly region near the sun’s equatorial area, a solar cycle 23 region, has been trying to form a spot:

Lately, this is the sound the sun has been making as it tries to get cycle 24 started.

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Joe S
May 14, 2008 7:50 am

The sound the Sun is making: hahahahaha!
I was expecting some sound a radio telescope might have recorded and I’m sure that’s what you intended getting us juiced up for.
REPLY: What makes you think a radio telescope didn’t capture that? 😉

May 14, 2008 7:52 am

Those tiny cycle 24 spots we had been seing a month back were hardly big enough to count. If this spot is so small that you need a blinck comparator just to see it, even with the fancy images we get from the SOHO (satelite is not the right word, what do you call a unmaned space ship that sits at L1?), I don’t think that this ‘spot’ can count. Certainly astronimers of old could not have counted this size of spot in their counts during prolonged minimums, so if we are trying to compair sunspot numbers to previouse minimums and relating that to global temperatures, these tiny spots are realy irrelevent.
Even between cycle 22 and 23, the SOHO thinger was not up there, so even then, these could not have been in the count.

May 14, 2008 8:09 am

Saw this spot emerging the other day on Wondered if it would amount to anything. There’s the answer.
Cycle 23 is at 12 years and counting….

May 14, 2008 8:34 am

Is ‘speckle’ an official designation?
REPLY: I’m thinking “sunspecks” should be the new moniker.

Alex Cull
May 14, 2008 9:13 am

Sounds like the sun needs a jumpstart to get its dynamo going. A pity the nearest other star is 4.22 light years away – I don’t think they make jumper cables quite that long! 🙂

Gary Gulrud
May 14, 2008 9:46 am

With the 13 month SSN and 10.7 cm flux still settling, coronal holes only now seem to have disappeared, IMF still not flipped southward SC24 minimum will not meet NASA’s May 2008, latest, line drawn in the sand.
Lets give ’em some more millions, ‘eh.

May 14, 2008 10:21 am

Has anyone seen the movie sunshine? It’s “the day after tomorrow” for solar entusiasths…

May 14, 2008 10:27 am

RE: You must learn one thing about NASA: it is not about science, but about funneling money from taxpayers to hardware manufacturers.

D. Quist
May 14, 2008 10:29 am

I think the spark-plugs are fouled. Or the coils don’t produce a strong enough magnetic field to induce a charge. Check cylinder 23 and 24. Perhaps they are cross connected.

May 14, 2008 12:00 pm

Before designating this “Sunspeck” as insignificant, check this picture of the eruptive prominence from it

May 14, 2008 12:27 pm

“2: MDI images are not unreliable. It is just the people that are lazy putting them on the Web. You may have noted that they often are not updated on weekends.”
Oh come on. My home Linux system updates data from my weather station every 20 minutes and puts it on . Every morning around 0800 ET it fetches baseball scores from pages like and updates . (If the folks are running late, it tries several more times during the day until it gets new data.)
This isn’t rocket science, it’s a little Python code and crontab entries.
Geez, if NASA can put a man on the moon, you’d think they could keep a web site updated. Oh, they can’t put a man on the Moon any more….

Sunspecks – much better than Tiny Tims.

May 14, 2008 12:47 pm
Jerker Andersson
May 14, 2008 1:50 pm

Very intersting graph in theese times. I remember reading something about the price of wheat correlate better with the solar cycle than temperature correlate with CO2.

Tom in Florida
May 14, 2008 2:02 pm

I noticed the other day that the ETI images on the SOHO pages showed a rather large darkened area at the “bottom” of the sun. Is this anything or is it something that comes and goes. I have to say that the feeling of direct sunlight on my skin seemed less intense the last couple of days since the dark spot appeared.

May 14, 2008 2:18 pm

Oh, wow. My car makes the same sound. I had no idea it was solar powered!

May 14, 2008 2:57 pm

“Jerker Andersson (13:50:54) :
Very intersting graph in these times. I remember reading something about the price of wheat correlate better with the solar cycle than temperature correlate with CO2.”
Wheat is at or just go to for the full meal.
Royal Astronomer Sir William Hershel in 1801 published that and was excoriated for his offering. See Influence of Solar Activity on State of Wheat Market in Medieval England for a modern update.
CO2 has been a suspect since 1820, through Joseph Fourier See The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect.
I have links to the latter two pages from my website.

Aaron C
May 14, 2008 3:05 pm

Many questions: 1) from what I have read here and in other related threads, these SC24 “sunspeck” -type spots have not been recorded before in other solar minimums, right?
2) Could it be that maybe they have always happened at the beginning of each cycle and just weren’t seen due to technological limitations?
3) If not, then could it really be a sign that the sun is going into a deep, long-term minimum?
4) from a non-astronomer, how do you look at the sun through a telescope and not go blind? I know you aren’t supposed to look at a solar eclipse., so I assume the telescopes have “sunglasses” type lenses?
Thanks for indulging me.

Jerker Andersson
May 14, 2008 3:57 pm

Aaron C
From what I have managed to gather so far I would say:
1. We have better “eyes” watching the sun now when we have SOHO. We can track down spots easier when we can see both magnetic signatures and have 24h/day observation. But for the part if we had small sunspots last minimum or this one is exceptional I have still not found any clear info.
2. That might be possible, certainly when it comes to observations centuries ago. Maybe we where not looking for those tiny-tim spots previous decades when we looked for sunspots?
3. It is in theory possible that the Maunder Minimum and the other similar sun minima was not due to lack of sunspots but due to small and few sunspots that where hard to see. This is not proven as far as I know.
4 You look at the sun via a heavily shaded glass, NOT sunglasses, designed for observation of the sun. You can also project the light from the lens up in the roof if you have the telescope indoors. Then you will see an image of the sun up in the roof including sunspots. I have done this myself a few times.
If you project the light up in the roof, beware! Right above the lens the light is so concentrated that it can put wood on fire.

Jeff C.
May 14, 2008 5:26 pm

“You must learn one thing about NASA: it is not about science, but about funneling money from taxpayers to hardware manufacturers.”
Being that a hardware manufacturer makes it possible for me to feed my family and pay my mortgage, I resemble that comment.

May 14, 2008 5:52 pm

Tiny Tim the entertainer was 6ft 1inch (185cm). – A large gentleman. Maybe your sunspecks should be relabeled Tom Thumbs (a small sized entertainer)
Aaron C. Be careful about aiming you digital camera directly at the sun and checking the image on computer. You need filters for the lens otherwise you can damage the digital sensor.
REPLY: Wrong Tiny Tim, see this one

Pamela Gray
May 14, 2008 5:58 pm

So once again we are back looking at cycle 23. The sun must have rotated out all of its magnetic kinks (the sun does not rotate at equivalent speeds so stuff gets all twisted and kinked together). It will take a while for the sun to wind back up again. It would seem that this kinking up would have a short and long term cycle to it. The upper, middle, and lower half does not kink up at the same rate. The middle rotation may even depend on outside forces periodically slowing and speeding its rate. Eventually the sections get to a line in the sand where everyone is taking off at the same time. This would all lead to the speculation that the differential rotation speeds can be predicted in terms of kinking potential. If the speed differentials periodically started off on the same longitudinal line, it would take some time to slowly work the kinks back in, thus eventually reving up the sun. This re-starting of the kinking would result in a very quiet sun from one cycle to the next till thinks start getting really kinked up again.
Just thinking out loud about minimum period predictions.

May 14, 2008 9:13 pm

Hasse sais: “Has anyone seen the movie sunshine? It’s “the day after tomorrow” for solar entusiasths…”
I second that. If you can get Sunshine in BlueRay, definatly worth a watch. Maybe we could try that trick of detinating a nuke with all of earths uranium in the sun.

Pamela Gray
May 15, 2008 6:45 pm

Very FUNNY!!!! Can you get a sound track of an old man snoring???

May 15, 2008 9:23 pm

Checking for sunspots the ancient way… punch a round hole through something opaque and dark (as kids we used cardboard). Go into a darkened room and use the opaque material with a hole to block the sunlight (aim hole at the sun). Use the other wall, floor or another piece of cardboard to catch the image of the sun; focus and check for sunspots.
The cleaner the hole and the more blackened the room the sharper an image (reversed) of the sun you can obtain. Though I doubt one could ever view the tiny tim sun speckles reliably this way.

May 17, 2008 1:18 pm

Its sad to see our favorite fusion reactor so quiet.
You know, if you wanted to get energy out of a fusion reaction, one way would be to soak up the radiated heat.
A better way, of course, is to tap into the magnetic fields. Measuring “total solar radiation at the surface, therefore, cannot be the whole story on how the Earth is heated by the sun. There has to be an induction heating effect. I suppose the climate modelers have determined that this is a very small value, and can be ignored, but I can’t find any posts anywhere about it. Still, magnetic waves penetrate deep into the earth, and interact with an enormous VOLUME of molecules in the core and the mantle, so there is reason to believe the effect might be significant. A very small but pervasive change in the heat of core and mantle might result in increased seismic activity, and this might happen in both directions, when cooling or when heating.
So now we have a blank sun for too long and an uptick in seismic activity. Coincidence perhaps.

Evan Jones
May 18, 2008 10:04 pm

Cold, dead, sun I feel
Love for you is gone

June 5, 2008 9:01 am

Another Tiny Tim (I prefer that to sunspeck!) on the sun, another Cycle 23 The Solar poles seem very dark in the top pictures, haven’t noticed them this dark before, I’m fairly new to this so is this unusual?

June 28, 2008 1:51 pm

[…] sunspot has been seen on April 13th, 2008. There was a tiny cycle 24 ”sunspeck” that appeared briefly on May 13th, but according to solar physicist Leif Svaalgaard, that one never was assigned a number and did not […]

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