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July 6, 2009

The Sun Fires Up for the 4th

For the last few years the Sun has been really quiet. Sunspots are Earth-sized dark spots on the sun. Sunspots are created when magnetic field lines "bunch up" on the surfaces of the sun. The spots are dark because they are slightly cooler then the surrounding surface. Sunspot activity goes through a 22 year cycle. Every 11 years the sun fluctuates from having lots of sunspots to very few or none at all. The "Solar Minimum" that we are in right now is lasting longer and with even fewer sunspots then predicted.

This weekend SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spotted a new sunspot. Maybe we will finally be coming out of this minimum.

Remember that those "little" spots on the sun are the size of planets!