The sun is showing signs of life. There are no fewer than five active regions on the sun’s surface, shown here in an extreme ultraviolet photo taken this morning by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):
Each circle contains a sunspot or proto-sunspot belonging to new Solar Cycle 24. After two years of record-low sunspot numbers and many month-long stretches of utter quiet, this is a notable outbreak. Whether it heralds a genuine trend or merely marks a temporary, statistical uptick in activity remains to be seen.