(Not) Seeing Spots

The sun has been in the midst of the deepest solar minimum in several decades, with long stretches of days with no sunspot activity at all.  Sunspot 1029, one of the largest sunspots in years, emerged this week as the newest member of sunspot cycle 24…and yet, thanks to the St. Louis’ wettest October on record, I had no opportunity to see it in person.  Through the middle of this week, we were already >7″ over the normal precipitation for October, and had set the record even before the current latest storm.

sunspot 1029
sunspot 1029

On the fateful day of September 11, 2001, I had taken the day off from work to speak at K’s science class at Harris Elementary School.  (It seemed like a good excuse to stay home on my birthday.)  As you can see here, that was during the heyday of sunspot cycle 23’s maximum.  I have a pair of solar filters (inserts from one of my Astronomy Magazines, something like this) that I brought along, and the kids were thrilled to be able to see sunspots directly with their own eyes.

Needless to say, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of the bigger sunspots like 1029, and it goes without saying that I’m also anxiously awaiting being able to see the sun, period!


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