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Last year's Solar Activity Thread was popular, and I thought it would be wise to get a new one ready for 2011.
....The evolution of the sunspot record has made it difficult to formulate a homogeneous record (the SIDC are doing a great job in a difficult arena). Before Wolfer there was mainly one primary observer who was at the mercy of local conditions. Today we have multiple observers that must put upward pressure on the historic counts, the SIDC have 80 observers covering the globe of which 30% are professional. These results are averaged over 24 hours to gain a result. Modern observatories mainly use the same magnification as Wolf's larger telescope but that is the only equal comparison. The aperture lenses are nearly twice the diameter and the focal lengths are more than twice the length of Wolf's 64x scope, the design of the optics is also unknown on the modern scopes which can also make quite a difference, these motor driven, auto cooled/no tube telescopes are a far cry from Wolf's telescopes. Wolf used a 1.5 K factor when using his smaller telescope, but 1.5 x zero is still zero. We must also be aware of modern counting methods that are different to Wolf's method, NOAA have decided to run their own system that is not designed to line up with the past. In essence they do not take on Wolfer's 0.6 reduction factor to account for the small spots and pores that Wolf did not count. NOAA have their method which differs from the historical record that is unfortunately prevalent across many media outlets.
The SIDC count is the internationally accepted standard that follows the Wolfer method. The Waldmeier step is currently built into this standard.
Isolating specks by setting a "Wolf like threshold" and adopting the SIDC count for the groups that make the grade the Layman’s Count although not perfect, attempts to redress some of the modern issues and should compare more favorably to Wolf’s reconstruction of the Dalton Minimum cycles....
The Monthly comparison graph clearly showing the different counting methods. The NOAA method departing from the Wolfer method by not adjusting the raw count (NOAA do not multiply by 0.6). The SIDC using the Wolfer formula (along with the Waldmeier scale factor) which I believe is flawed during times of high speck ratio....
To compare solar cycles we can also use the F10.7 radio flux values that have been recorded since 1947 in Canada. Solar cycle 20 was a weak cycle which is currently looking strong against solar cycle 24. Data is taken from the AU adjusted monthly average values.
SC20 & SC24 have a lot in common, they both experience angular momentum disturbance measured at the Sun. SC24 has a much higher degree of disturbance that will guarantee a lower cycle than SC20 if the theory is correct....
ACTIVE SUNSPOT GOES QUIET: A few days ago, sunspot group 1147 was busily launching CMEs from the far side of the sun. Yesterday it turned toward Earth and immediately quieted down. Is this the calm before the storm? Stay tuned.
Originally posted by quakewatcher
NOAA finally got around to posting a warning (I've been expecting one all afternoon, I think they were waiting until I left the house:
Active for about the next 18 hours.