NASA´s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has captured images of the sun which have shown no Solar Activity on its Surface. This marks the longest period that our star has shown little or no Sunspots on its surface since the last Solar Minimum which occurred in April 2010. This is clear sign that the star is approaching the next solar minimum, which is thought to take place in between 2019 and 2020. Our star goes through a cycle of minimum and maximum solar activity that occurs every 11 years.

Solar cycle

This is a period of sun´s magnetic activity that varies in intensity and that is estimated to complete a cycle of 11 years, during which the number of sunspots on our star may vary in quantity.

The overall activity on the sun suffers some variations, including the sun´s radiation, sun´s explosions, sunspots, and flares. The sun´s minimum and maximum refers to the number of sunspots during the cycle. The number of sunspots is calculated by first counting the quantity of sunspot groups and then the number of individual sunspots. The number of sunspots is given by multiplying the number of sunspots by ten times the number of sunspot groups.

Current solar cycle

The sun´s cycle 24, which is the present cycle, started in 2008. It´s been estimated that this cycle is the one with the less solar activity since 1750-the date that the recording of solar activity began. This cycle reached a maximum of solar spots in 2014 with 116 sunspots.

It´s thought that the current sun’s cycle reached its peak in late 2013 and early 2014 and that it will reach a minimum around 2020. The cycle includes a 24-year period in which the sun´s poles reverse-the south to north and the north to south; each 11 year.

Intense activity of the sun even during a minimum.

Intense solar activity and highest number of sunspots accompany solar maximum, while during the solar minimum the sun is less active and the sunspot number decreases.

While sunspot number during a solar minimum decrease, the sun still sends high energetic particles, such as the sun´s wind which produces the aurora and affects space weather. The latest observation of the sun and its activity was performed by NASA´s SDO.