Just a few years after the last solar cycle ended, there is evidence that the next one, which is expected to be the biggest in 50 years, may have already begun. Sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections disrupt radio and telecommunications, including cell phones, and if they become strong enough, they can be especially dangerous for astronauts. They can also have effects on the weather, if powerful enough. Large sunspots, which reduce the amount of solar heat reaching the earth, can cause cooling, while coronal mass ejections may have the opposite effect. Since several countries plan to travel to the moon in a few years, excessive solar activity could delay their trips.
It all started with a "backward" sunspot that was first seen on July 31st. NASA physicist David Hathaway says, "We've been waiting for this. A backward sunspot is a sign that the next solar cycle is beginning."
How can a sunspot be backward? According to NASA, sunspots are planet-sized magnets created by the sun's inner magnetic dynamo. Like all magnets, they have a north and a south pole. The sunspot of July 31st turned up in an area of the sun with a north-south orientation, but the sunspot itself is the opposite?it?s south-north. That is not only a sign that a new solar cycle is beginning, it's also means it will be a really BIG ONE.
The NASA website explains that, "Solar activity rises and falls in 11-year cycles, swinging back and forth between times of quiet and storminess. Right now the sun is quiet.? It quotes Hathaway as saying, "We're near the end of Solar Cycle 23, which peaked way back in 2001." Despite the fact that solar Cycle 24 isn't scheduled to begin for around six more years, the signs reveal that it will begin any time now, which will return the sun to a stormy state.
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
Is the sun in a time slippage? The earth is certainly undergoing some major changes?and while some of them can be blamed on sunspots, most of them are our fault. What would ourfounding fathers say if they could see the state of the earth today?and who were those guys, REALLY? This last item is part of our big blowout summer sale. People magazine calls Whitley's new book The Grays "a great read." Anne Strieber says it's a love story. Get your copy TOMORROW and decide for yourself! Here's another important decision to make: Do you want us to be here for you tomorrow? If you do, there's only one choice: subscribe today. Subscribers get EVEN BIGGER SAVINGS in our sale!
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