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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


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The weak solar maximum continues

Late last night NOAA released its monthly update of the Sun’s sunspot cycle, covering the period of March 2013. As I have done every month for the past three years, I am posting this latest graph, with annotations to give it context, below the fold.

While the Sun’s output of sunspots increased in March, it did not do so with much vigor, with the numbers still far below all predictions while also showing an overall decline since a single strong peak in October 2011.

March Solar Cycle graph

For reference, the green curves in the graph show the two original predictions of the solar scientist community 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 slight increase last month allowed the scientists at the Marshall Space Flight center to keep their prediction unchanged for the solar maximum, only the second time in eight months they have not revised and lowered their prediction. As I noted last month, since January 2012 these scientists have changed their prediction 20 times, with numbers ranging from 59 to 99. These numerous changes and their wide range so close to the actual maximum illustrates quite clearly how little they really know about the sunspot cycle and how much they are actually guessing.

The Sun could still wake up. The solar scientist community is still calling for a second peak to occur this coming fall, resulting in a double-peaked maximum. As far as I can tell, however, the only evidence they have to justify this prediction of a second peak is that in past maximums the Sun has sometimes produced a double peak. They might be right, but to my mind this isn’t science but wild-eyed gambling, no different really than predicting that, just because someone else once won the lottery in the past, I might win it too!

Either way, the solar maximum will soon be over, and we will begin the steady ramp down to solar minimum and to no sunspots. The question then will be this: Will the solar cycle shut down, as it did in the 1600s, and produce another Grand Minimum lasting decades, as some solar scientists are predicting? Or will sunspots come back, and the Sun return to its days of high activity as seen through most of the 19th and 20th centuries?

Stay tuned, buckos, since an inactive Sun has also been accompanied by cold global temperatures. If the sunspot cycle shuts down, you might need that heavy winter coat, even if you live in a presently warm climate!

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and 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.


  • wodun

    Thanks for the updates.

    Considering the impact the Sun can have on our technology and the everliving debate about climate change, you would think this subject would be more popular but it isn’t. The type of ongoing analysis that you provide is non-existent elsewhere.

  • Mike

    If it’s possible to have a Grand Solar Minimum which lasts decades, is it possible to have a Grand Solar Maximum which also lasts decades?

  • That’s an excellent question. One would think that maximums could happen like the mimimums. The data that scientists have, however, does not show any evidence of Grand Solar Maximums, only Grand Minimums scattered periodically through the record.

  • Mike

    Thank you sir, I appreciate your reply. Very interesting site by the way.

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