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From www.spaceweather.com (1/4/07)...
SOLAR CYCLE 24: Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The wait is over. A magnetically reversed, high-latitude sunspot emerged today... It marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the sun's slow ascent back to Solar Maximum
For reasons explained in a recent Science@NASA story, this marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the first step toward a new solar maximum. Intense solar activity won't begin right away. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max (expected in 2011 or 2012). It's a slow journey, but we're on our way!