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A reviving solar maximum

Last week NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, showing the sunspot activity for the Sun in September. As I do every month, I am posting it here, below the fold, with annotations to give it context.

As much as I am always willing to point out the errors and foibles of scientists when they get something wrong or overstate their conclusions, I also believe it right to give credit when credit is due. I have been saying for several years now that the prediction of the solar scientist community, indicated by the red curve in the graph below the fold, had seriously overstated the Sun’s sunspot production during this solar maximum.

Well, it now appears that, as the solar cycle continues to run its course, that their May 2009 prediction is becoming increasingly correct.

September 2014 Solar Cycle graph

The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The red curve is their revised May 2009 prediction.

The sunspot activity of the Sun in September jumped, exceeding the predicted activity for this time period. While this is only the eighth time the activity in a month was greater than the prediction, the overall shape of this solar maximum as well as its intensity is more and more appearing to resemble the predicted red curve.

Granted, the prediction did not include the double peak, but it wasn’t intended to. Granted, sunspot activity in general during this maximum remains below the prediction, but the differences between the actual and predicted curves are becoming less noticeable.

I keep expecting the Sun to start ramping down to solar minimum but sunspots keep popping up. The maximum has now been going on for three years, and historically weak maximums have tended to last longer. I wonder how much longer this maximum can last.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

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