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The Sun as imaged at 3 p.m. (PDT) on July 7. (Gary Seronik)

Big Sunspots

Solar observers enjoy a rare flurry of activity.

The best collection of sunspots in recent memory made its way across the solar disc in early July. For solar observers, it was a rare treat in what has been a fairly quiet solar max.

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The Sun as imaged at 3 p.m., PDT, on July 7. (Gary Seronik)

The Sun undergoes an 11-year cycle, during which the number of sunspots climbs to a peak before settling down for solar minimum. According to some experts, solar activity is at its maximum for the current cycle right now — though overall sunspot numbers have been very low. Not all solar maximums are created equal, however, and the relative quiet of this one is likely a feature of normal, long-term, cycle-to-cycle variations.

Equatorial Sunspots by Brian Colville
This sharp image of the equatorial region of the Sun was taken on July 6 near Cambray, Ontario, using a 6-inch f/8 Istar refractor. (Brian Colville)