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Sluggish sunspot cycle surprises scientists

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1 Sluggish sunspot cycle surprises scientists on 29th January 2014, 3:40 pm

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The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late - with fewer sunspots than anytime in the last century - prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.
Sunspots have been observed for millennia - first by Chinese astronomers and then, for the first time with a telescope, by Galileo in 1610.
The sunspots appear in roughly 11-year cycles - increasing to a daily flurry and then subsiding drastically, before amping up again.
But this cycle - dubbed cycle 24 - has surprised scientists with its sluggishness.
The number of spots counted since it began in December 2008 is well below the average observed over the last 250 years. In fact, it's less than half.
"It is the weakest cycle the sun has been in for all the space age, for 50 years," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association physicist Doug Biesecker told AFP.

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