Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind The Black by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Sunspot update: An active October heralds the likely end of solar minimum

With the start of a new month it is once again time to publish another sunspot update. NOAA yesterday updated its monthly graph for tracking the Sun’s monthly sunspot activity. As I have done now every month since this website started in 2011, it is posted below, with additional annotations by me to show the past solar cycle predictions.

Unlike September, which saw almost no sunspots, October was a very active month, with the amount of sunspots far exceeding prediction. Furthermore, every sunspot during the month had a polarity assigning it to the new solar cycle, not the last.

October 2020 sunspot activity

The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community for the previous solar maximum. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007 for the previous maximum, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The blue curve is their revised May 2009 prediction. The red curve is the new prediction, first posted by NOAA in April 2020.

All told, October’s activity clearly signaled the beginning of the ramp up to the next solar maximum. The trend line in 2020, since the long unprecedented period late last year with absolutely no sunspots for months, is distinctly upward. While it is also likely that future months will have less activity than October, the future is now pointing to that coming new maximum.

The central scientific question remains: What will be the strength of that maximum? The prediction by NOAA’s solar scientists calls for a weak maximum , weaker than the previous maximum in 2014 and in fact weaker than any in at least a hundred years. While the activity in October suggests the maximum will be stronger than this, no one should take that conclusion very seriously. A close look at the last maximum on the graph shows numerous fluctuations up and down from month to month. October’s burst of activity is merely a reflection of that kind of normal monthly fluctuation.

What the graph does suggest however is that the upcoming prediction is likely going to be more accurate than the past predictions of the previous maximum. During the past maximum the fluctuations rarely exceeded the prediction curves. In general, even the weak prediction from 2009 overestimated sunspot activity.

Though we are very early in the cycle, the activity in 2020 so far suggests that new prediction will get it right this time. We will not really know however for several years. Stay tuned.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • chris mcdaniel

    in very simple terms can you illustrate the impact of more or less sunspots on how it impacts us here on Earth?
    Thank you

  • chris mcdaniel: I’ve written about this many times previously, but you I think are new here.

    There is strong circumstantial evidence that when the Sun is less active, with fewer sunspots, the Earth’s climate cools. In the 1600s, the last grand minimum with no sunspots for almost a century, the Earth experienced what has been labeled the Little Ice Age, with some regions literally having no summers a few times and thus crop failures.

    Similarly, proxy data of past climate fluctuations align well with proxy data for past periods of low sunspot activity. When there are fewer sunspots, the climate cools. When there are more, the climate warms.

    Though we know sunspots form in connection with the Sun’s magnetic field, its dynamo, and its evolution over time, we really do not understand the process at its fundamental level. Thus, we don’t really know why there is a sunspot cycle, or why it seems to shut down every 500 to 1000 years.

    We also do not have a good record of fluctuations in the Sun’s radiation across these cycles. Until the late 1970s, we had no record at all for most wavelengths. Only since then have we had satellites above the atmosphere able to track the Sun, across all wavelengths, during its entire sunspot cycle. Since then however there have only been about five cycles, hardly a long enough sample to really come to any solid conclusions.

    There is one good theory that attempts to explain the link between the climate and sunspots, though it remains unconfirmed. An active Sun acts to block cosmic rays from reaching the Earth. During maximums the cosmic ray flux drops. During minimums and grand minimums the flux rises.

    Physicists have found that cosmic rays hitting the upper atmosphere might increase cloud cover. When more cosmic rays get through during long periods of few sunspots, we would thus have more clouds, reflecting sunlight away and thus cooling the climate. See the video at this post for a full explanation.

    I hope that helps.

  • Spectrum Shift

    How truly disappointed will climate change zealots be when the full truth of the suns influence is learned. The sun has been for millions of years. How do we know, how can we predict, when the sun will dim a little, or brighten a little and for how long? We still don’t know why the earth had multiple ice ages, how they began and then ended. Our ability to examine the sun with all spectrums is young, very very young compared to the life of our sun. We may learn (one day, maybe) the full behavior of the sun. Till then, sunscreen with the top down, and enjoy the drive!

  • Phill O

    Seeing some great sunspots now in early November. If this will reduce the general “extra” cloud in the west of North America we have seen since 2009, this amature astronomer will be pleased.

    However, the information which might be gained from a long low maximum will be very informative to solar dynamicists. Sooo, I am of two minds of what to hope for. Guess I will have to wait and see.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.