The sunspot numbers have not been good, and it does not seem they’ll be getting much better anytime soon. According to the April 6 “K7RA Solar Update,” only 2 days of the March 29 – April 4 reporting week saw sunspots, and that was at the bare minimum. No sunspots showed at all for the previous reporting week. Solar flux has been sitting in the 60s lately and are forecast to remain at that level for the next 45 days. Better days lie ahead — eventually. Top contester Frank Donovan, W3LPL, asserts that solar precursors like spotless days, which correlate physical solar phenomena with future solar activity levels, are much better indicators of progress toward a solar minimum — a broad phase of the solar cycle — than of a specific event, such as the bottom of a broad solar minimum. Not only that, these and other solar precursors are useful in predicting the likely strength of Cycle 25, although accurate predictions of the strength and timeframe of the Cycle 25 solar maximum aren’t possible until the new sunspot cycle is under way.
“We entered the Cycle 24 solar minimum with the onset of 8 spotless days in June 2016,” Donovan pointed out. “We had only 32 spotless days in 2016. We had 15 spotless days in a row in March 2017, followed by relatively infrequent spotless days for the next 7 months.”