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Solar minimum expected in 2020

 Early season Aurora over Healy-Todd Salat 8-21-18
Early season Aurora over Healy-Todd Salat 8-21-18 (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 24, 2019 at 4:08 PM AKST
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NASA has updated its forecast for the “solar minimum” saying they expect it to occur near April 2020.

The solar minimum is when solar activity is at its lowest. The pattern of minimum and maximum solar activity follows a fairly predictable pattern of approximately 11 years from minimum to minimum.

The number of sunspots—which indicates increased solar activity—has been traced back to 1755. The Wolf Index shows the highs and lows of sunspots. That first cycle was Cycle 1. Cycle 24 will end when the solar minimum is reached in 2020 and Cycle 25 will begin.

The next solar maximum is forecasted for 2025.

Aurora is formed when charged particles hit the earth's atmosphere. Even though the Sun is nearing its minimum for solar activity, there are still chances to view the aurora.

KTUU spoke with Erin Hicks, Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Alaska-Anchorage in 2018 about the aurora chances during a solar minimum.

“The sun is still a very active body in our solar system,” said Hicks. “For example, there can be more steady streams of charged particles, from the sun during these solar minimums. So although we don't have the big violent events that carry charged particles in our direction, there's still a steady stream, more of the solar wind effect.”

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