ARRL

ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX046 (1995)

SB SPCL @ ARL $ARLX046
ARLX046 Sunspot hints new cycle
 
ZCZC AX16
QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 46  ARLX046
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  August 23, 1995
To all radio amateurs 
 
SB SPCL ARL ARLX046
ARLX046 Sunspot hints new cycle
 
Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology say they have
identified the first new sunspot in the next sunspot cycle.
 
Scientists at Caltech's Big Bear Solar Observatory in Big Bear City,
California, photographed the spot on August 12.
 
''This makes us happy,'' said Hal Zirin, professor of astrophysics at
Caltech and director of the Big Bear facility.  ''The sun is a lot
more interesting to study when things are going on.''
 
Early in the 11-year sunspot cycle, sunspots appear rarely and at
relatively high solar latitudes around 30 to 35 degrees, then
increase in frequency and appear at lower latitudes until they reach
sunspot maximum, Caltech said.  After this peak in activity, the
number of sunspots slowly declines, and they appear ever closer to
the sun's equator until they reach a relatively quiet phase called
sunspot minimum.
 
The sun has been in a quiet period through much of 1994 and this
year, with a few spots showing up near the equator.  The new sunspot
found on August 12 appeared at a solar latitude of 21 degrees, and
its magnetic polarity is opposite to that seen over the last decade,
a key to identifying it as ''the manifestation'' of the start of a
new cycle, Caltech said.
 
Scientists at Caltech said they expected an early beginning to Cycle
23, but not this early.  ''Sunspots in the new cycle should rapidly
become more common and reach a high level of activity in 1998 or
1999,'' Caltech said.
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