Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports:
Solar Cycle 25 seemed well under way, but no new sunspots emerged since December 23. The last time any sunspot was visible was January 2.
Average daily solar flux declined from 78.6 to 73.8. Geomagnetic A index remained quiet. Predicted solar flux for the next 30 days is 73, 73, and 74 on January 14 – 16; 75 on January 17 – 19; 73 and 75 on January 20 – 21; 78 on January 22 – 27; 77 on January 28 – 31; 75 on February 1 – 6, and 74 on February 7 – 12. Solar flux is expected to peak at 78 again after February 14.
Predicted planetary A index is 5 on January 14 – 16; 10, 12, 10, and 8 on January 17 – 20; 5 on January 21 – 24; 8 on January 25 – 26; 5 on January 27 – 31; 10 on February 1 – 2, and 5 on February 3 – 12.
Peering at the STEREO spacecraft, I see a promising bright spot a few days from now in our sun’s southern hemisphere, so perhaps that indicates a new sunspot over the solar horizon.
Space Weather Woman Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW, has posted this video discussing the lack of sunspots and the latest space weather news.
Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, gave an excellent talk on propagation for the Madison DX Club on January 12. The video will be posted soon. Until then, you can watch a presentation on Solar Cycle 25 by Douglas Biesecker of NOAA via the same link.
Sunspot numbers for January 7 – 13 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0, with a mean of 0. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 74.6, 75.2, 74.2, 73.1, 73.2, 72.8, and 73.2, with a mean of 73.8. Estimated planetary A indices were 6, 2, 3, 3, 14, 9, and 4, with a mean of 5.9. Middle latitude A index was 4, 1, 2, 3, 10, 8, and 3, with a mean of 4.4.
ARRL News Letter on January 14, 2021
Analysis Determines We Are in Solar Cycle 25
It’s now official. The solar minimum between Solar Cycles 24 and 25 — the period when the sun is least active — occurred in December 2019, when the 13-month smoothed sunspot number fell to 1.8. This is according to the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, co-chaired by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We are now in Solar Cycle 25, with peak sunspot activity expected in 2025, the panel said. The panel expressed high confidence that Solar Cycle 25 will break the trend of weakening solar activity seen over the past four cycles.
”We predict the decline in solar cycle amplitude, seen from Cycles 21 through 24, has come to an end,” said Lisa Upton, panel co-chair and solar physicist with Space Systems Research Corporation. ”There is no indication we are approaching a Maunder-type minimum in solar activity.”
At 11 years, Solar Cycle 24 was of average length and had the fourth-smallest intensity since regular record-keeping began in 1755, with what is considered Solar Cycle 1. It was also the weakest cycle in a century. At solar maximum in April 2014, sunspots peaked at 114 for the cycle, well below the 179 average.
Solar Cycle 24’s progression was unusual. The sun’s northern hemisphere led the sunspot cycle, peaking more than 2 years ahead of the southern hemisphere sunspot peak. This resulted in fewer sunspots at solar maximum than if the two hemispheres were in phase.
For the past 8 months, activity on the sun has steadily increased, indicating that we have transitioned to Solar Cycle 25, forecast to be a fairly weak cycle — about the same as Solar Cycle 24. Solar Cycle 25 is expected to peak in July 2025, with a predicted 115 sunspots.
”How quickly solar activity rises is an indicator on how strong the solar cycle will be,” said Doug Biesecker, the NOAA-NASA panel co-chair and a solar physicist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). ”Although we’ve seen a steady increase in sunspot activity this year, it is slow.”
”While we are not predicting a particularly active Solar Cycle 25, violent eruptions from the sun can occur at any time,” Biesecker added.
Before Solar Cycle 25 peaks in 2024, NOAA is slated to launch a new spacecraft dedicated to operational space weather forecasting. The Space Weather Follow-On L-1 observatory (SWFO-L1) will be equipped with instruments that sample the solar wind, provide imagery of coronal mass ejections, and monitor other extreme activity from the sun in finer detail than before. NOAA’s next Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-U) is also scheduled to launch in 2024. GOES-U will carry three solar monitoring instruments, including the first compact coronagraph, which will help detect coronal mass ejections. Enhanced observations of the sun from these satellites will help improve space weather forecasting.
Recent news stories, such as this article from SpaceRef, give predictions for the next cycle.