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Earlier this week NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center published its monthly update of the Sun’s sunspot cycle. As I do every month, I’ve posted the newest graph below, showing the continuing slow rise in sunspots (blue/black lines) in comparison with the consensis prediction made by the solar science community in May 2009 (red line).
In February the sunspot count finally recovered from its wimpy showing in December. In addition, the sun has been quite active in recent weeks, more active than it has been in years. What this means, however, for the upcoming solar maximum remains unclear, though it still seems likely that the next maximum will be the weakest in more than 200 years (see the graph on this page). The newest prediction for the next solar maximum, from solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center, also predicts this, and the sunspot numbers we are seeing are still in line with that new prediction.