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Solar Activity and the next Maunder Minimum

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The ‘Maunder Minimum' is the name given to the period from 1645 to 1715 when the number of sunspots – ‘storms' on the sun – became almost zero.

The period is named after the solar astronomer Edward Walter Maunder (1851-1928), who was working at The Royal Observatory at Greenwich when he discovered the dearth of sunspots during this period.

During one 30-year period within the Maunder Minimum there were only about 50 sunspots compared with a more typical 40,000. Maunder was a driving force in the foundation of the British Astronomical Association and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The sun was well observed during the period of the Maunder Minimum and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity corresponded to a climatic period called the ‘Little Ice Age' when in Europe rivers that were normally ice-free, froze and snow fields remained at low altitudes throughout the year.

There is evidence the sun had similar periods of inactivity during the years 1100-1250 and 1460-1550. Sunspots........

© SunLive

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