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NOAA today posted its monthly update of the ongoing sunspot cycle of the Sun. This latest graph, covering the month of August, is posted below the fold.
The Sun continues to fizzle.
The red line indicates the consensus (oh that word!) prediction of the solar scientist community from 2009. As you can see, except for a brief period in late 2011, the Sun has never come close to meeting their prediction. In August the sunspot number actually dropped slightly, even though the Sun is supposed to be moving up towards maximum.
Since February the solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have been predicting that the upcoming solar maximum will occur in the spring of 2013 and have a sunspot number of around 60, which would make this, as they say, “the smallest sunspot cycle in about 100 years.” They came to that number after much waffling in 2011, shifting their prediction from 59 up to 77, then up again to 99, and then finally back down to 60.
Based on the numbers in July and August, it would seem that the Marshall scientists have finally got it right. The sunspot number for this solar maximum seems settled around 60. Nonetheless, the shape of the graph makes me wonder if the maximum might have already occurred during that peak period late last year, rather then the predicted peak this upcoming spring.