For those who have taken up helioastronomy as a hobby, this is not the best time to have spent money on Hydrogen-alpha filters. Scientists are reporting that the level of sunspot activity on the sun is the lowest it has been in nearly a century. The BBC and Astronomy Magazine are reporting that this year's prediction is that we will see approx 299 sunspot free days in this year. There is also some speculation that this "minimum" could be part of a larger solar cycle and could also be a precurser to a Marunder Minimum-like event which occured between 1650 and 1700 which has also been referred to as the "Little Ice Age" where solar output left the earth much cooler than usual and is considered a big contribution to the famines of the time.
These days, it is considered that a similar cycle could have both positive and negative effects on today's world. On the plus side, lower solar output, smaller and less frequent CMEs and a weakened solar wind would reduce the effects and damage to electronics and electrical systems, and the lower worldwide temperatures could offset some of the effects of man-made greenhouse gases. On the negative side, it could give rise to harsher winters, lower food production and many other effects that cannot be forseen.
The Quiet Sun
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