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Space Science

The Quietest Sun 227

Orbity sends in a Boston Globe report on the unusual calm on the surface of the sun. The photos, many taken in more active solar times, are excellent — see the sequence from last year of a coronal mass ejection carrying away the tail of a comet. "The Sun is now in the quietest phase of its 11-year activity cycle, the solar minimum — in fact, it has been unusually quiet this year — with over 200 days so far with no observed sunspots. The solar wind has also dropped to its lowest levels in 50 years. Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm..." As if to be contrary, New Scientist mentions that the number of sunspots seem to be increasing.
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The Quietest Sun

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  • oblig (Score:4, Insightful)

    by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:04AM (#25365759)
    it's quiet out there... too darn quiet... I don't like it...
  • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:08AM (#25366013) Journal

    You might check with your local 'Astronomy Club', or if a planetarium is nearby, maybe someone there could give you the benefit of their (individual/group) experience.

    Even though I have benefited from some real gems at /. , I would still do some independent research for something like this.

  • by ChowRiit ( 939581 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:40AM (#25366139)

    As the sun has an 11 year cycle of activity, is it really that significant that this is the least active it's been in 50 years? That would mean that out of the last 5 solar minima this is the quietest, which it doesn't take a physicist to notice is a 1 in 5 chance - hardly breathtaking.

  • hmmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:47AM (#25366171)
    (1) those are *stunning* pictures


    (2) did I not hear that this is linked to the lull in global warming recently, and as soon as the sun picks so does the heat? is this true....?
  • by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:48AM (#25366439) Homepage

    It's even less surprising. If this minimum's activity is lower than the last one, it's automatically "the lowest in the last x!". And if were higher, vice versa.

  • by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:29AM (#25366585)

    Indeed, I can't refrain from commenting on the part of TFS that notes that "Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm..."

    I mean, of course they're not sure. They shouldn't care about the significance of what the heavenly bodies are doing at all. That is the area of astrologers and other pseudo scientists.

    Any self respecting scientist should answer the question "What does it mean when the sun is unusually quiet?" with "It means that the sun is unusually quiet."

  • If the lack of sunspots holds on, then, if we get declining global temperatures, then, we might actually be headed into an ice age. Knowing our luck, this would become evident AFTER we've blown ten trillion dollars to lower our CO2.

  • by MerlTurkin ( 598333 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:20AM (#25367137)
    The cycle's AVERAGE is 11 years. It could go longer or shorter. This is not a big deal. I believe one past cycle (IIRC) lasted 13 years. Give it a few months. It'll start kicking in.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:25AM (#25367191)

    Um, no, his shutter speed will be whatever he sets it to be. Where the hell do these people come from?

  • by Iskender ( 1040286 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:49AM (#25367339)

    Your shutter speed will be maxed so the sensor's exposure to the bright focused sun will be minimal anyway, don't worry about it. Shoot it.

    Apart from the other fault pointed out by another poster, you're missing the important fact that not only the imaging sensor is a sensitive component.

    The autofocus sensors, the metering sensors, the mirror and *the shutter itself* are all sensitive components. The manual of my Olympus dSLR says not to do it, and I doubt it's in any way unique.

    The only responsible advice is to get a filter built for this very purpose before shooting.

  • by DragonTHC ( 208439 ) <Dragon.gamerslastwill@com> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @09:04AM (#25367481) Homepage Journal

    There is mounting evidence that sunspot activity has an effect on the Earth's temperature. I believe this will be one of the coldest winters in the past 10 years.

    This evidence also suggests that Earth is trending towards cooling overall. Not warming like all the 'experts' claim.

    Wait and see, this will be one of the coldest winters we've seen in a long time.

  • Re:Very convenient (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @09:59AM (#25368211)

    Over long periods of time, of course it has a significant effect on global temperature. The question isn't "is the sun affecting Earth's temperature?" but rather "how much more are humans affecting the temperature above natural changes?" The biggest unknown is the huge change in cosmic rays hitting the Earth over the last 50 years from the large increase in solar wind. Maybe this long lull will help scientists learn more about how solar winds and cosmic rays affect climate.

  • Wrong timescale (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @10:23AM (#25368589)

    Global warming is a trend of increasing temperatures over decades. A quiet solar cycle isn't enough to establish even a correlation, so forget about causation.

    Every time a scientist picks up a fossil and says "hmmm" a hundred creationists are poised to claim that evolution is flawed. Likewise, whenever there's any news on the sun (whether of high activity, low activity, or average activity) dozens of people leap on it as evidence of causation for global warming. Politicization of science sucks.

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