Animation courtesy Michael Ronayne. Click for larger, slower speed animation
NASA’s David Hathaway just recently updated his solar cycle prediction and has pushed cycle 24 into the future a little more once again. Though to read his latest update on 10/03/08 at his prediction page here, you wouldn’t know it, because the page is mostly tech speak and reviews of semi relevant papers.
However, there is one graphic, the familar one above, that has been updated and tells the story best. Michael Ronayne was kind enough to provide an animation (above) that shows the march of time as far as solar cycle 24 predictions go. With the latest update (static image here) the startup of solar cycle 24 has been pushed into 2009.
This isn’t the first time NASA has moved the goalpost. Back in March I did a story on NASA moving the goal post then, and since then they’ve moved the cycle ahead twice, once in April and again now in October.
NASA isn’t the only one having to update predictions, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has also had to make several adjustments to their graphic:
And there is more change in the current thinking on sunspots. As Michael Ronayne writes:
After ignoring sunspots for two and a half years the New York Times finally ran a story and BLOG posting on the current state of the Sun.
Sunspots Are Fewest Since 1954, but Significance Is Unclear
Climate and the Spotless Sun
Details of the recent NASA reports on Ulysses and the Spotless Sun were minimal and the Times failed to mention NASA’s report that the Sun was dimming. The Times reporter speculated on possible connections between solar activity and Earth climate but such speculation was of concern to some Times readers who made their views know in the Dot Earth BLOG. Perhaps the Times should avoid controversial phrases such as “Little Ice Age” in the future. I decided to make a post on the Dot Earth BLOG about some of the graphic records I have been collecting of past SWPC and NASA sunspots predictions. Apparently my input was not fit to print because the moderator did not allow it to be posted to Dot Earth. Attached is the text of my submission to the New York Times. I thought the posting was quite balanced and am not sure what warranted it being rejected.
As you review the SWPC and NASA predictions, note that the outer envelope for the onset of Solar Cycle 24 for the SWPC Low Prediction (http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/SC24/ssn_predict.gif) is January 2009, while the NASA prediction has been moved out to July 2009. Watch the two animations carefully and note where the changes were made in the NASA predictions.
I am writing a segment on Sunspot Predictions which will be posted in Wikipedia, at the following URL, when it is done:
It will be interesting to see when solar minimum actually occurs. I suspect that we will be in for a long wait. I will keep the above animations current as SWPC and NASA post their monthly updates.
Lots of scrambling going on to get in tune with the sun these days.