BREAKING NEWS: NASA Predicts Solar Cycle 25 Weakest in Last 200 Years

The forecast for the next solar cycle says it will be the weakest of the last 200 years. Research now underway has found a more reliable new method to predict this space weather. The maximum of this next cycle – measured in terms of sunspot numbers, could be 30 to 50% lower than the most recent one – Cycle 24. The results show the next cycle will start in 2020 and reach its maximum in 2025.

The new research was led by Irina Kitiashvili, a researcher with the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley. It combined observations from two NASA space missions; Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and the Solar Dynamics Observatory with data collected since 1976 from the ground-based National Solar Observatory.

One challenge for researchers working to predict the Sun’s activities is that scientists do not yet completely understand the inner workings of our star. Some factors that play out deep inside the Sun cannot be measured directly. They have to be estimated from measurements of related phenomena on the solar surface like sunspots, coronal holes and filaments.

Kitiashvili’s method differs from other prediction tools in terms of the raw material for its forecast. Previously, researchers used the number of sunspots to represent indirectly the activity of the solar magnetic field. The new approach takes advantage of direct observations of magnetic fields emerging on the surface of the Sun.

NASA has been assigned to procure American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years with a landing on the lunar South Pole. With a calm and quiet space weather forecast for the coming decade, it is a great time to explore.


Science Of Cycles keeps you tuned-in and knowledgeable of what we are discovering, and how some of these changes will affect our communities and ways of living.


UPDATE: NSO Predicts Shape of Solar Corona for August 2017 Eclipse

The 2017 eclipse will offer a unique opportunity to observe the corona for more than 90 minutes, many times longer than a typical eclipse. However, NSO (National Solar Observatory) is preparing to change how we look at the solar corona forever. Using this observatory, which will house the most powerful solar telescope in the world, scientists will be able to consistently measure the magnetic fields in the solar corona directly for the very first time. “The solar corona is largely an enigma,” according to Dr. Valentin Pillet, Director of NSO.

“For now, the best we can do is compare high resolution images of the solar corona, such as those we’ll obtain during the eclipse, to our theoretical models. But DKIST will allow us to actually measure the magnetic fields in the corona. This will be revolutionary in the field of solar physics.”

Solar Corona Eclipse National Solar Observatory

But there is more to the corona than one might initially realize. Dr. Gordon Petrie from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) explains: “The corona might look like it’s a fuzzy halo around the Sun, but it actually has quite a lot of structure to it. The Sun has a magnetic field that, at first glance, might remind us of the middle-school experiment where you sprinkle iron filings over a bar magnet to get a butterfly shape. However, on closer inspection, it is far more complicated than that.”

The Sun’s magnetic field is rooted inside of the Sun, and protrudes through the surface leaving marks we recognize as Sunspots. Since we cannot directly observe magnetic fields, we use the super-heated gases present in the Sun’s atmosphere to trace out the magnetic field lines, similar to the role of iron filings in the aforementioned bar magnet experiment. Under normal circumstances, the solar corona – the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere – is hidden from view by the bright solar surface. During an eclipse, the surface is blocked, allowing the corona to shine through.

“The corona changes its shape over time, and looks drastically different during solar maximum compared to solar minimum,” explains Dr. David Boboltz, the National Science Foundation’s program officer for the NSO. “During solar maximum, such as the 2012 eclipse, the corona looks like a spiky ring around the entire Sun. In contrast, a solar minimum eclipse such as the one this month, will have lots of complexity near the equator but will be drastically different near the north and south poles of the Sun.”

Thank you for your continued support. We’re now about half way there.

Remember, you do not need a PayPal account to use your card.

Watch for ongoing reports as information comes in. I also plan to present greater outlines to the science behind by research, especially for those who may be new to my work.