back to article Better sunspot forecasts on the way

With a solar maximum expected next year, predicting sunspot activity is going to be a hot topic. An international team of scientists has announced that it can identify emerging sunspots earlier than is currently possible. The work, published in Science, is based on detecting acoustic waves that provide a “signature” of an …


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  1. Martin Budden Silver badge

    If a CME can disable a sattelite in earth orbit

    can a CME disable STEREO-A?

    (we need an irony icon... )

  2. MondoMan

    Article from the future?

    Actually, the next solar maximum is expected in 2013 rather than next year.

  3. Antony Riley
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    Presentation on the current state of the accuracy of sun spot predictions from 2009 (excuse PDF).

    Well one thing is for sure, it can't get much worse.

  4. Conor Turton

    I wouldn't be worried

    I am an amateur radio op. The general concensus of this solar cycle is "nothing to see here, please move along". It is absolutely abysmal with the numbers barely higher than they've been for the past 3 years and activity on the HF frequencies remaining low. Considering we're nearly at the maximum you should be able to talk to someone thousands of miles away on a wet piece of string by now.

    1. Graham Wilson

      @Condor Turon -- Why even bother?

      Why even bother? The HF spectrum has already been blotted out by cretinous BPL/PLT/PLC (power line comms) and other RF noise garbage and interference.

      Try Internet DXing. There's no fade, more bandwidth, small and cheap iPod-type handsets, no crosstalk--yuh usually only get one IP address at a time, where SSB stands for 'Scientific Step Backward' and not 'Single Side Band', and there's ICQ which you should feel at home with. I was trying for a CW analogy too but I think anyway we've all forgotten what that is--or was. >:-)

      Seriously, perhaps you amateurs should take up the cudgels and push for spectrum management to be classed as an environmental/green issue. In recent years, with outsourcing of govt. spectrum management/interference etc. there's too many vested interests and positions to protect than to clean the mess up. Government is much more interested in selling off spectrum than keeping it clean (as it once was).

      Let's face it the stupid Green movement wouldn't know what you're talking about anyway, and there's no trees to hug. So it's only you guys left. If you don't do something about it then the noise floor will become so high that a sunspot maxima of 10 times that of the halcyon times of the late 1950s-early '60s won't help you one iota--you'll be mired in the noise forever!

  5. Dave Rickmers
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    The sun is dead on one side

    I too am a radio amateur. This solar max is a bust. Two days ago there were zero sunspots. Today we're up to 56. It typically would be over a hundred in this part of a cycle.

  6. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Sun might be spotless

    But it's still capable of tossing a few seriously large solar flares out instead of a shitload of little ones.

    Other than that, 2 days' forecasting in the world isn't going to help much if a large CME starts forming on the other side of the sun.

    FWIW the STEREO birds are fairly heftily armoured against CMEs but most comms satellites aren't. That may not help much if we get a 1856-level direct hit - you'll be left cursing large electricity-distribution infrastructure which doesn't have enough spare transformers to cope with such events.

    (Very Large grid distribution transformers take 2-3 years to build. There are less than 10,000 of them in service worldwide and only a few dozen spares. A big hit is likely to take out a few hundred of them. Some of the very largest ones are numbered in tens with only a couple of spares and they're even more vulnerable to CME effects. This has been raised to every UK Prime Minister in the last 20 years and not acted on.)

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