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On July 6 NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center published its monthly graph, showing the progress of the sun’s sunspot cycle in comparison with the consensis prediction made by the solar science community in May 2009.
The graph shows clearly that, despite press-release-journalism stories like this, the sun remains in a very quiet state, with the number of sunspots far less than predicted by the red line on the graph. If these trends persist (as they have for the last three years), the next solar maximum will either be much later than expected or far weaker. In fact, the upcoming solar maximum might very well be the weakest seen in almost two centuries. Note also that the prediction shown on this graph is a significant revision downward from the science community’s earlier prediction from 2007.