For those of us who enjoy observing our Sun, it has been a long and frustrating period of "solar minimum". Approximately every 11 years the Sun goes through what is called a "solar cycle". A solar cycle is defined by the period between flips of the Sun's magnetic field. Yes, what is north at the beginning of the solar cycle will be south at the beginning of the next cycle. During a solar cycle the amount of "solar activity" changes. One key measurement of activity is the number of sunspots that occur throughout the cycle. Solar minimum is a period of time when sunspots and other solar activities occur very infrequently. Activity is at its lowest at the beginning of the solar cycle. Solar maximum is when activity is at its greatest and peaks in the middle of the solar cycle. And then the decline begins again. We are coming to the end of Solar Cycle 24. The activity decline of this cycle began in 2015. And there has been a steep decline in solar activity and an extraordinarily low number of sunspots over the past two years. If forecasts our accurate, Solar Cycle 25 will begin sometime between April and July of this year. And from that point solar activity should begin to increase and reach solar maximum in 2025. See the charts below.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that Solar Cycle will begin as predicted and increased solar activity follow.