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June 15, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The next 11-year cycle of increased sunspot activity, scheduled to begin around 2020, may be delayed for a couple of years and have a reduced magnitude — or it may not occur at all, researchers said Tuesday. Three different lines of evidence suggest that the sun, which is expected to reach its maximum sunspot and magnetic activity in the current cycle sometime in 2013, might even enter a prolonged quiet period similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, a 70-year stretch from 1645 to 1715 in which virtually no sunspots were observed.
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SCIENCE
July 12, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
Those of us who have been paying attention to the sun this year have been a little ... disappointed. 2013 was supposed to be the year of solar maximum -- the peak of an 11-year cycle when the number of sunspots that mar the sun's surface is at its highest. These sunspots, which are actually cool areas on the sun's surface caused by intense magnetic activity, are the sites of spectacular solar flares and CMEs, or coronal mass ejections, which can send billions of tons of solar material hurtling into space.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 1990 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Sunspots may be the cause of worldwide influenza epidemics (pandemics), British astronomers Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe of the University of Wales reported last week in Nature. They said that the two events occur in 11-year cycles that are closely synchronized. Researchers have connected other events, particularly weather, to sunspot cycles before, the noted astronomers wrote, but the relationships usually peter out after a few cycles.
SCIENCE
August 20, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Sunspots, those dark regions on the surface of the sun whose high magnetic activity has ripple effects for Earthlings, seem to emerge and fade without warning. But now, by listening to the sounds the sun makes, scientists have managed to predict when a sunspot will appear up to two days beforehand. The findings, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, could help solar physicists understand how to better predict solar flares and other space weather events that can harm astronauts and damage power and electronics systems on Earth.
SCIENCE
April 4, 2009 | Times Staff and Wire Reports
The sun has been unusually quiet lately, with fewer sunspots and weaker magnetic fields than in nearly a century. A quiet sun is good for Earth: GPS systems are more accurate; satellites stay in orbit longer; even the effects of human-caused global warming are marginally reduced, though just by three-tenths of a degree at most. It's all a normal part of the strange but regular cycles of the sun's activity. Scientists don't know why it happens, but for humankind, they say, it's probably a good thing.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 28, 1998
New satellite findings contradict the long-held idea that the aurora borealis (northern lights) is caused by sunspots. That belief originated because the so-called great auroras, which are visible in the mid-latitudes, usually occur after a period of high sunspot activity.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 18, 1996 | From Times staff and wire reports
Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center reported in Nature that they have found direct evidence for the theory that sunspots--mysterious dark patches on the sun's surface--are caused by curved magnetic fields that stick out from the sun like croquet wickets. The number of sunspots rises and falls in an 11-year cycle of solar activity that can disrupt radio communications on Earth and might also affect Earth's climate.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 28, 1995 | From Times staff and wire reports
Caltech astronomers have detected the first sunspot of a new sunspot cycle, marking the end of the sun's quiescent period and the beginning of a new surge of activity. The spot was observed Aug. 12 by Hal Zirin and his colleagues at Big Bear Solar Observatory. Sunspots--dark areas on the sun's surface associated with strong magnetic fields, solar flares and disruptions of radio communications on Earth--have an 11-year cycle marked by increasing activity followed by a slow decline into quiescence.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 10, 1993 | JACK CHEEVERS, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Many astronomers are professional night owls, going to work after sundown to gulp coffee and train their telescopes on stars, planets and other celestial bodies best viewed in the dark. But Gary Chapman, a professor of astronomy and physics at Cal State Northridge, goes to work in the bright light of morning. In fact, he cannot even do his job at night--he follows the sun. Chapman is director of a small observatory operated by CSUN in a remote area west of Sylmar.
NEWS
July 21, 1999 | BOOTH MOORE
It's difficult to tell sometimes when you've had too much sun, but a new product called SunSpots may help change that. Manufacturers of the 1-inch, bandage-like sticker claim they can reveal how much sun exposure a wearer has received. Each SunSpots sticker contains radiochromatic materials that change color upon exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. The sticker is placed on the skin and covered with the sunscreen the user normally wears.
SCIENCE
June 15, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The next 11-year cycle of increased sunspot activity, scheduled to begin around 2020, may be delayed for a couple of years and have a reduced magnitude — or it may not occur at all, researchers said Tuesday. Three different lines of evidence suggest that the sun, which is expected to reach its maximum sunspot and magnetic activity in the current cycle sometime in 2013, might even enter a prolonged quiet period similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, a 70-year stretch from 1645 to 1715 in which virtually no sunspots were observed.
OPINION
September 8, 2009
Re "Maybe it's the sunspots," Opinion, Sept. 1 It's possible, of course, to prove just about any belief if one carefully cherry-picks the evidence and one's experts. But what if, while we're awaiting perfect evidence that humans are the principal cause of the current warming trend, we pass the tipping point and begin the irreversible slide toward a Venusian climate? The money we will have saved won't be much help. Carroll Slemaker Mission Viejo :: Kudos to Jonah Goldberg for having the courage to question the media and politicians on "global warming" -- or now, "climate change" because the Earth is not getting warmer.
SCIENCE
May 9, 2009 | From Times Staff And Wire Reports
When the sun sneezes, Earth gets sick. It's time for the sun to move into a busier period for sunspots, and though forecasters expect a mild outbreak by historical standards, one major solar storm can cause havoc with satellites and electrical systems. Like hurricanes, a weak cycle refers to the number of storms, but it takes only one powerful storm to create chaos, warned scientist Doug Biesecker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's space weather prediction center.
SCIENCE
September 27, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The solar wind -- a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun's upper atmosphere at 1 million mph -- is significantly weaker, cooler and less dense than it has been in 50 years, according to new data from the solar probe Ulysses. The cause seems to be a change in its magnetic flux, said Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute. Why it's happening is a mystery, but it has fluctuated like this in the past. Normally the sun goes through an 11-year cycle of more, then fewer, sunspots and a similar solar wind cycle.
SCIENCE
October 28, 2006 | From Times Wire Reports
Twin spacecraft blasted off on a mission to study huge eruptions from the sun that can damage satellites, disrupt electrical and communications systems on Earth, and endanger spacewalking astronauts. The two NASA spacecraft, known as STEREO, for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, lifted off Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida, aboard a Delta II rocket.
SCIENCE
March 7, 2006 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
The next sunspot cycle will be a year late and as much as 50% stronger than the last one, according to a forecast released Monday by scientists from NASA and the National Science Foundation. Such predictions are vital because the solar storms associated with the sunspots not only endanger humans in space, but can slow satellites in orbit, disrupt communications, interfere with Global Positioning Systems and bring down power grids.
SCIENCE
July 12, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
Those of us who have been paying attention to the sun this year have been a little ... disappointed. 2013 was supposed to be the year of solar maximum -- the peak of an 11-year cycle when the number of sunspots that mar the sun's surface is at its highest. These sunspots, which are actually cool areas on the sun's surface caused by intense magnetic activity, are the sites of spectacular solar flares and CMEs, or coronal mass ejections, which can send billions of tons of solar material hurtling into space.
SCIENCE
November 8, 2003 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
A solar flare that burst out of the sun Tuesday was the largest on record. The two previous most powerful flares, from 1989 and 2001, were rated at X-20 on the scale used by solar astronomers. Tuesday's event was at least an X-28 and could be revised upward. The flare was so powerful it "blinded" the satellite used to measure it for 11 minutes. The flare caused few problems on Earth because it was directed away from the planet and hit only with a glancing blow.
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