September 1, 2008
The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.
The event is significant as many climatologists now believe solar magnetic activity – which determines the number of sunspots — is an influencing factor for climate on earth.
According to data from the Solar Influences Data Center (SIDC), the last time such an event occurred was June of 1913. Sunspot data has been collected since 1749.
When the sun is active, it’ p begins.
But this year — which corresponds to the start of Solar Cycle 24 — has been extraordinarily long and quiet, with the first seven months averaging a sunspot number of only 3. August followed with none at all. The astonishing rapid drop of the past year has defied predictions, and caught nearly all astronomers by surprise.