Dr Tony Page
Sunspots are becoming scarce. So far in 2018, the sun has been blank–that is, without sunspots–for 33 days. That’s fully half of the time. Inspect the face of today’s sun:
Could you find any dark cores? Answer: No. The last time the sun was blank more than 50% of the time was in 2009, near the end of the deepest Solar Minimum of the Space Age. Now the sun is entering a new Solar Minimum, and it is shaping up to be even deeper than before.
Periods of spotlessness are a normal part of the 11-year solar cycle. However, the current Solar Minimum may be remarkable as the ambient solar wind and its magnetic field are weakening to low levels never before seen in the Space Age. The flagging pressure of the solar wind, in turn, is allowing more cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. These rays are being detected not only by NASA spacecraft in the Earth-Moon system, but also by space weather balloons in Earth’s atmosphere.
See “The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation” to read more about this phenomenon.