Taxonomy term

sunspot

Japanese diaries show sun's cycle sparks lightning on Earth

The effects of solar cycles on Earth’s climate over timeframes of thousands of years are well documented, but the shorter-term effects on weather are less understood. A new study using ancient Japanese diaries to track storms in the 18th and 19th centuries suggests that one of the sun’s shortest cycles — the 27-day rotational period — may play a role in stimulating lightning on Earth.

15 Nov 2018

Here comes the solar maximum: What we know - and don't know - about solar storms and their hazards

As solar science continues to advance, researchers are finding new ways to study and forecast the behavior of our star, whose whims endanger our technology-dependent way of life. But what the upcoming peak means for solar storms, and how those storms will affect Earth, remain to be seen.

17 Dec 2012

The long road to understanding our star

The earliest written records of sunspots date back to 165 B.C. in China, but human understanding of the sun didn’t begin making leaps forward until the early 1600s, shortly after the invention of the telescope. That’s when Galileo Galilei, Thomas Harriot and others began drawing sunspots in detail and tracking how they moved and changed.

17 Dec 2012

Spot-free sun: Is that normal?

For the past few years, astronomers and scientists have been looking up at a sun that is, more often than not, rather blank. Almost too blank. That is, the sun has been relatively free of the dark patches, called “sunspots,” that appear within 30 degrees of the sun’s equator and travel across the surface. Although low sunspot counts are normal in a typical sunspot cycle, this period has gone on longer than usual, scientists noted at an international solar conference on “Solar Variability, Earth’s Climate and the Space Environment” held in early June at Montana State University in Bozeman.

28 Aug 2008