What happened to solar minimum?

Although we are supposed to be near the lull in the 11 year solar cycle, the Sun constantly surprises us. I just had an AuroraWatch alert appear in my inbox stating that there has been a large increase in local activity ("Possible Sudden Storm Commencement"), suggesting the possibility of seeing the aurora if you are on a part of the planet where it is currently dark. A quick check of SpaceWeather.com shows that there is a fairly large sunspot coming into view - sunspot 875 - which could produce X-class flares.

On a related point, both services are currently under review by their respective funding agencies and look as though they may have their funding reduced or even stopped. Both are asking for supportive comments from people who use the services to watch aurora.

Update (27/4/2006): It would appear that the AuroraAlert turned out to be a false alarm, but as Ian has pointed out in the comments, there have been some large ejections from the two sunspots that are currently visible.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 26th Apr 2006 (14:42 UTC) | Permalink
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