This week the Sun was hitting its lowest level of solar activity since 2011 as it gradually marches toward solar minimum. Solar activity is usually measured by sunspot count and as this video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows, the Sun has been near-spotless in recent days.
The Sun has a pendulum-like pattern of solar cycle of activity that extends over about an 11-year period. The last peak of activity was in early 2014. At this point in time, the sunspot numbers seem to be sliding downwards faster than expected, though the solar minimum level should not occur until 2021. No doubt more and larger sunspots will inevitably appear, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched by NASA in 2010 to studying the Sun’s atmosphere in great detail and to help our understanding of how solar activity interacts with the Earth and the surrounding space.
Video: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory.