Solar flare erupting from the surface of the sun. The sun will reach the peak of its current activity cycle in 2024, one year earlier than previous estimates, according to experts at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).
The revised prediction now places Solar Cycle 25’s peak of activity known as "solar maximum" between January and October 2024 according to a NOAA statement . The peak will be earlier, stronger and last longer than estimates made in 2019.
The solar cycle describes an approximately 11-year period of solar activity driven by the sun’s magnetic field and indicated by the frequency and intensity of visible sunspots on the surface.
Related: The next 4 to 5 years will be the best time to see the northern lights this solar cycle
Predictions on when solar maximum will occur are based on long-term historical records of sunspot numbers, advanced statistics and models of the solar dynamo — the flow of hot, ionized gases within the sun that generate our star’s magnetic field which in turn drives the solar cycle.
"We expect that our new experimental forecast will be much more accurate than the 2019 panel prediction and, unlike previous solar cycle predictions, it will be continuously updated on a monthly basis as new sunspot observations become available," solar scientist Mark Miesch said in the NOAA statement. "It’s a pretty significant change."
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center’s revised Solar Cycle 25 prediction. (Image credit: NOAA) The revised prediction is good news for eclipse chasers as the total […]