Quiet maximum

The current solar cycle is a snoozer, but that’s not a bad thing

By Alexandra Witze, 14:00 PM October 18, 2013

Matt Penn is grateful for whatever the sun will give him. These days, that isn’t much. Penn’s job, as a solar astronomer, is to track the waxing and waning of sunspots on the solar surface. These dark blots mottle the face of the sun, increasing in number to a peak every 11 years and then falling off again in a rhythmic march choreographed by magnetic activity inside the star.

2013 marks the maximum of this solar cycle, yet Penn doesn’t have very much to look at. Atop Kitt Peak outside Tucson,...

Source URL: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/quiet-maximum?mode=magazine&context=187439