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Sunspot Cycles

Ever since Galileo’s time, we have monitored the Sun closely. One thing that has been carefully registered is the number of sunspots visible at any given time.

What has been noted is that the number of sunspots vary in cycles of 11 years, and that climate and geology on our planet appear to be related to this cycle.

Cold periods in the past have coincided with periods of low sunspot counts. Volcanic activity and earthquakes have tended to pick up during these same periods.

We are currently seeing few sunspots, and true to form, we are seeing a lot of volcanoes blow their tops. There has also been some unusual weather registered. Many cold records have been broken.

Pāhoehoe lava flow on Hawaii

By Brocken Inaglory – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

There is nothing controversial about this. It is well known that low sunspot counts coincide with reduced electromagnetic activity on our Sun. The reduced electromagnetic activity allows for more cosmic rays to penetrate the atmosphere and crust of our planet. Increased cloud cover and geological activity follow as a result.

The conventional interpretation of this is that our Sun has an internal dynamo that happens to oscillate at 11 years cycles. There is nothing interesting going on. There is no relationship to anything else. Any relationship that there might be is purely coincidental.

On the other hand, there are those who point out that the 11 years cycle is a good match for the orbital resonance of certain planets around the sun. The Earth Venus resonance is a particularly good match. Also, the combined orbits of Jupiter and Saturn make a very good match when allowing for some numeric acrobatics.

Jupiter and Saturn lined up on the same side of the Sun, together with Mars, on March 7 this year. There will be a great conjunction in which Jupiter and Saturn line up almost perfectly with each other in 2020. That is the year the current sunspot cycle is expected to be at its minimum.

The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24

By David Hathaway, NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center –, Public Domain,

What is a little concerning is the fact that the last couple of sunspot cycles have shown a clear downward trend in overall activity. This happened before the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with the little ice age.

We are currently entering a period where all the big planets are located at the same side of the Sun. Last time this happened, was during the Maunder Minimum.

It remains to be seen if we are entering a prolonged period of low sunspot activity, and if this will affect climate and geology as much as last time.

The prediction by those who believe that planetary alignments have something to do with it is that we are in for another little ice age.

Those who believe that planets have nothing to do with sunspot activity are not willing to make any such prediction. They do not have anything in their models to make this kind of predictions. It is all pure coincidence, and no predictions can be made beyond the fact that sunspots oscillate over an 11 years average.

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