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Yet to Really Shine

Dear <<First Name>>,

It's the middle of the week and I've been attending the American Meteorological Society Conference virtually through Zoom. It is truly a surreal experience. After so many months in global lock-down, these kinds of virtual venues are becoming commonplace. If there is one good thing I have learned, it's that I have been able to converse with a great deal of people from our Space Weather community from distant parts of the world, who would never be able to attend if the conference were held in person. In fact, I just finished a session with a talk by Dr. Bob Leamon of the NCAR/UCAR/UMBC team on the rise of Solar Cycle 25. Sadly, the general consensus is that the recent uptick in solar activity near the end of last year is not indicative of us crossing the "terminator" of this new cycle. What that means is that we may still have a few more months before activity truly ramp up and stays there. 

As many of you know, the predictions for Solar Cycle 25 vary wildly. Conservative estimates say the cycle will be very much like Cycle 24, peaking at about 115 sunspots-- a weak cycle to be sure. However, the NCAR/UCAR/UMBC team have predicted a much stronger cycle, around 250 sunspots. This would mean Cycle 25 will be more like Cycle 19, the largest cycle since the space age began. To be totally honest, the recent delay in activity does mean the chance of Cycle 25 being a big cycle is lessening, but the game is not over yet. After all, the Sun did have a massive rally in November of 2020, which was consistent with the NCAR/UCAR/UMBC results. So, all I can say is the Sun still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Yet one more reminder that we are a long way away from solving our Sun's many mysteries.

This news is the main reason why I delayed getting my letter out to you. I wanted to see if any of the discussions at the AMS meeting would help give us any new insights on the state of our star. Unfortunately, it seems as if our Sun is still wrestling to get free of solar minimum. So as you watch this week's forecast, with weak solar storm launches, weak solar flux, and a spotless face, you will understand why our Sun has yet to really shine. We might have a few more solar rotations to wait for activity to pick up again like it did back in November of 2020. But even as I say this, a new bright region in the Sun's southern hemisphere is rotating into STEREO's view. Perhaps we wont have to wait for long.

Solar Storm Graze & Red Planet Rendezvous | Space Weather News 01.10.2021
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