Yesterday I lamented that the sun was blank, not only on the SOHO MDI, but also the magnetogram. Within a couple of hours, one sunspeck appeared. I cited Murphy’s Law. As one commenter put it: ” I think if you check back for the last six months or so whenever you mention the lack of sunspots on here, one shows up.”.
Perhaps if I stop writing about the lack of sunspots, a grand minimum will appear. Such power I wield. 😉
The plage area now has no characteristics of a classic spot as you can see on the MDI, but it did yesterday ever so faintly as you can see in a previous MDI image here.
It is rather faint. It is doubtful that pre 20th century astronomers would see it.
NASA’s Dr. Tony Philips, who runs Spaceweather.com also got sucked in by the spotlessness yesterday and wrote this today:
Where have all the sunspots gone? As of yesterday, March 21st, the sun has been blank on 85% of the days of 2009. If this rate of spotlessness continues, 2009 will match 1913 as the blankest year of the past century. A flurry of new-cycle sunspots in Oct. 2008 prompted some observers to declare that solar minimum was ending, but since then the calm has returned. We are still in the pits of a deep solar minimum.
Coincidences and commentary aside, the plage group that appeared shortly after these two posts yesterday is an oddball to be sure. Have a look at the magentogram:
It has the classic high latitude of an SC24 spot, but reversed polarity.
Jan Janssens writes:
” 22 March 09 – New SC24-group has reversed polarity… – The new sunspotgroup that is visible in today’s SOHO-images, has -according to the corresponding magnetogram- a reversed polarity (SC23/25). Though on itself this is not so peculiar (every solar cycle has about hundred such groups, or about 3% of the total), it is already the second SC24-group showing this “aberration”: NOAA 1003, visible for just one day (04 October 2008) on the southern hemisphere (-23°), had a polarity equal to that of a unpair solar cycle too (see slide 4 of my presentation). That makes 2 out of 13 (15%), if this group gets a NOAA-number. ”
Compare the current magnetogram to one where a true SC24 spot did form on Feb 24th, 2009:
The real question is: how long will it last? Most of the cycle 24 spots (and disturbances that don’t rise to spots) have very short lifetimes. Will this new one grow and be assigned a number? Or will it wink out?
We live in interesting times.