I have not reported on sunspot activity for several months and as we can see, Cycle 24 is emerging nicely after what has been a longer than normal period of actual quiescence. This coming year is going to be rather busy.
An interesting conjecture will be to see if the activity level reaches higher than normal levels as a reaction to the apparent deep low. This would rarely show up and would be hard to twinkle out of the historical data with anything approaching statistical certainty. This time around we had what appears to be an exceptional quiet period and if a counter action is indicated, then we may get to see it.
Let us hope that we do not get thumped with an oversized EMP pulse for our troubles. Of course if the activity level passes through a higher than expected peak, the press could use the story to scare the hell out of everyone.
The NW7US Current Sunspot and Geophysical Activity Report
The observations, prognastications, and comments by NW7US
NW7US is Tomas David Hood, Propagation and Space Weather Columnist for CQ Communications
HF Conditions 12 November to 15 November 2010: Poor to Fair
The background X-ray flux will be low, in the low 'B' range.
More about Background X-rays
Overall, the monthly average background 'hard' X-ray level is rising (as seen by the following plot), showing a change from deep solar cycle minimum. We are certainly in the rising phase of Sunspot Cycle 24. While it has been a slow up-tick over the last eighteen months, I expect to see a more rapid rise during late 2010, and through 2011.
For reference on Ionospheric propagation, including how background X-ray influences Ionospheric conditions, see this reference by the late Bob Brown, NM7M, Ph.D. from U.C.Berkeley.
Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity
Covering the period: 25 - 31 October 2010
Solar activity was at low levels for 25-27 October with occasional C-class events from Region 1117 (N20, L=060, class/area Dsi/550 on 29 October). Activity levels decreased to very low for 28-30 October, but then increased back to low levels with two C-class events from Region 1117 on 31 October including the largest of the period, a C5 at 0431 UTC. The other spotted groups on the disk were relatively quiet and stable.
No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.
The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit reached high levels every day for 25-30 October, and then decreased to predominantly moderate levels on 31 October.
The geomagnetic field was predominantly quiet to unsettled for 25-26 October. Quiet levels prevailed for the remainder of the period for 27-31 October. Solar wind data from the ACE spacecraft showed a high speed solar wind stream in progress at the beginning of the interval, with steadily decreasing solar wind velocities. The peak velocities of the high speed stream occurred on 25 October with values in the 600-660 km/s range, but had decayed to nominal background speeds around 1445 UTC on 28 October. A weak transient signature was observed at ACE on 31 October, possibly due to a slow, Earth-directed CME that occurred on the 26th. However, there was not any significant geomagnetic response.