Three Weeks Without Sunspots

As July 17th comes to a close, the sun has been blank for 21 straight days–a remarkable 3 weeks without sunspots. To find an equal stretch of spotless suns in the historical record, you have to go back to July-August 2009 when the sun was emerging from a century-class solar minimum. We are now entering a new solar minimum, possibly as deep as the last one.


Solar minimum is a normal part of the solar cycle. Every 11 years or so, sunspot production sputters. Dark cores that produce solar flares and CMEs vanish from the solar disk, leaving the sun blank for long stretches of time. These quiet spells have been coming with regularity since the sunspot cycle was discovered in 1859.

However, not all solar minima are alike. The last one in 2008-2009 surprised observers with its depth and side-effects. Sunspot counts dropped to a 100-year low; the sun dimmed by 0.1%; Earth’s upper atmosphere collapsed, allowing space junk to accumulate; and the pressure of the solar wind flagged while cosmic rays (normally repelled by solar wind) surged to Space Age highs. These events upended the orthodox picture of solar minimum as “uneventful.”

Rest of the article at



Our Planet Is Being Roasted By Cosmic Rays From This Binary Star System Only 10,000 Light-Years Away

For years, Earth has been bombarded by cosmic rays emanating from a mysterious source astronomers couldn’t identify. Now, new research conducted with the help of NASA’s NuSTAR space telescope has finally tracked down the source of these rays: Eta Carinae, a binary star system just 10,000 light-years away. In an event called the Great Eruption of 1838, the system created a stunning hourglass nebula in a tremendous burst of energy that temporarily made it the second-brightest object in the night sky.

According to Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR: “We’ve known for some time that the region around Eta Carinae is the source of energetic emission in high-energy X-rays and gamma rays. But until NuSTAR was able to pinpoint the radiation, show it comes from the binary and study its properties in detail, the origin was mysterious.”

The powerful cosmic radiation is caused, in part, by two currents of stellar wind colliding as they swirl around the twin stars. These winds then create shockwaves that boost the strength of the X-rays and gamma rays also being emitted. According to Kenji Hamaguchi, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center: “We know the blast waves of exploded stars can accelerate cosmic ray particles to speeds comparable to that of light, an incredible energy boost. Similar processes must occur in other extreme environments. Our analysis indicates Eta Carinae is one of them.”

Discovering the source of these cosmic rays helps astronomers to understand a bit more about Eta Carinae, which is still something of a mystery: scientists have no idea what caused its famous “eruption” in 1838 which, by all rights, should have ended in a supernova.

Although Earth’s magnetosphere keeps us safe from (most) radiation, cosmic rays might actually be increasing around our planet. This makes space travel more deadly than it already is. And if the amount of radiation keeps increasing, we might find out the limits of our atmosphere the hard way.

Source article HERE.

Cosmic rays are increasing,


According to space weather, Cosmic Rays are increasing and that may influence the amount of cloud cover.  n increase in cloud cover could cool the planet. More cosmic rays, more clouds, more cooling. Interesting that cooling maybe influenced by an external source, a binary star 10,000 light years away.

The question is how long will the increase continue? If the cosmic ray cloud connection is valid science, we could be in for some serious cold events.  The sun moderates the flow of cosmic rays, but the source is increasing, so how much can a quiet sun moderate? We live in interesting times.

David Archibald: June Solar Update

We have only 300 years-odd of detailed solar observations with telescopes, half that of magnetic records, half again in the radio spectrum and less than that for most modern instrument records (and 12 years of Watts Up With That to interpret it). So as the months pass our knowledge of solar activity is still growing appreciably. The evidence points to a major transition of activity in 2006 which has returned us to the solar conditions of the 19th century. 19th century-type climate is expected to follow.

Details HERE.


Sun Approaching 100 Days Without Spots*

[* Not continuous days, an accumulation  of blank sunspot days ]

2 July 2018 – “The Belgian department of solar physics research (SIDC) says we are about to touch 100; that is, a hundred days in which we do not see spots on our sun,” says Italian meteorologist Dr Carlo Testa.

During a time of few or no sunspots (a solar minimum) the Sun emits less energy than usual, says Dr Testa. “According to some scholars this situation could lead to climatic upheavals.”

Suffice it to recall, says Testa, that between 1645 and 1715 the most significant solar minimum of history, the Little Ice Age, occurred, bringing years and years marked by very strict winters that lasted until June.

Now several studies indicate that we’re headed into another Great Solar Minimum, says Testa. For some scholars this is only a hypothesis, but we are seeing small signals that support this idea: namely,the most powerful strat-warming ever recorded in mid-February, the very very unstable Spring, and finally this summer that continues to limp along.

In the immediate future Testa expects “a very limp and less hot summer than in past years,” and that the coming winter could also be affected by the solar minimum.

“What if the worst is to come?” asks Testa.

Global Cooling and Volcanism

After viewing this chart the first time I always wondered what role vulcanism played in the Little Ice Age and other global cooling events.

Volcanic activity

I have noodled the idea for years that sun spots, or lack of spots, have influenced the climate of the planet and that there was some connection between solar activity and vulcanism on the earth. Not finding any highly evident connection, I just accepted the idea that volcanism was cyclical and influenced the global temperature.

That is until I say this graphic and read Willis Eschenbach Stacking Up the Volcanos post


Willis’ Conclusion:

Well, I’d say that this is very strong evidence that the global temperature is not at the mercy of changes in forcing as is generally believed. Volcanic eruptions clearly and measurably reduce the incoming sunlight due to volcanic aerosols both reflecting and absorbing solar energy.

However, this does not cause a corresponding reduction in global average temperature. Instead, the climate system responds to reductions in forcing from eruptions by increasing the amount of energy entering the system, as well as by reducing the heat loss from the surface, in order to stabilize and maintain the surface temperature within a fairly narrow range (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th century).

Willis’ full post is HERE.

Following Willis’s analysis of global temperatures on this page and here I have to rethink the whole issue of solar and volcano influenced climate change.   Your thoughts? 

Scientists Have Found The ‘Missing Link’ From Sunspot Activity To Cosmic Rays-Clouds To Climate Change

By Kenneth Richard on 21. May 2018

Hailed as ‘the last piece of the puzzle’ in codifying our understanding of the mechanism(s) that cause climate changes, scientists are increasingly turning to Sun-modulated cosmic ray flux and cloud cover variations as the explanation for decadal- and centennial-scale global warming and cooling. In other words, climate changes are increasingly being attributed to natural variability, not anthropogenic activity.

A link to the full blog post is HERE. It is too long to re-post. Recommended reading, with references to past Grand Minimums.

Sunspots Vanishing Faster Than Expected

Dr.Tony Phillips,

Sunspots are becoming scarce. Very scarce. So far in 2018 the sun has been blank almost 60% of the time, with whole weeks going by without sunspots. Today’s sun, shown here in an image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, is typical of the featureless solar disk:


The fact that sunspots are vanishing comes as no surprise. Forecasters have been saying for years that this would happen as the current solar cycle (“solar cycle 24”) comes to an end. The surprise is how fast.

“Solar cycle 24 is declining more quickly than forecast,” announced NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center on April 26th. This plot shows observed sunspot numbers in blue vs. the official forecast in red:


“Official” forecasts of the solar cycle come from NOAA’s Solar Cycle Prediction Panel–a group of experts from NOAA, NASA, the US Air Force, universities and other research organizations. They have been convening at intervals since 1989 to predict the timing and intensity of Solar Max. The problem is, no one really knows how to predict the solar cycle. The most recent iteration of the panel in 2006-2008 compared 54 different methods ranging from empirical extrapolations of historical data to cutting-edge supercomputer models of the sun’s magnetic dynamo. None fully described what is happening now. [Ephsas Added]

Full Story is HERE.

We live in interesting times when the sun is not acting as expected. That makes every day the sun shines an interesting event. Stay tuned, this is going to be a fun time for solar and cosmic ray observers.

The most important change, however, may be the increase in cosmic rays. Flagging solar wind pressure during solar minimum allows cosmic rays from deep space to penetrate the inner solar system. Right now, space weather balloons and NASA spacecraft are measuring an uptick in radiation due to this effect. Cosmic rays may alter the chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere, trigger lightning, and seed clouds.