If you are a DXer and fortunate enough to have enjoyed solar cycle 21 with it’s peak in the early 1980’s, you
were probably a little disappointed with cycle 23. Cycle 23 is the one that is now ebbing down with low sunspot activity.
If you were hamming in the late 1950’s during cycle 19, you may be even more resentful of the propagation in the coming
cycle. The bottom of cycle 23 should possibly be around the end of 2006. At that time, cycle 24 will emerge and begin its
According to scientists and researchers at the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory at Nagoya University in Japan and
the Air Force Research Laboratory in Massachusetts, the solar activity for cycle 24 may be less than it has been for the last
The scientists’ and researchers’ predictions are derived by examining the magnetic fields in the polar regions
of the Sun during the minimum of the present solar cycle. Their theory is that low strength magnetic fields result in low
solar activity in the next cycle and high strength magnetic fields result in high activity. So far, they have observed lower
than usual magnetic strengths, as compared to previous cycles.
The early observations of these magnetic fields indicate the possibility of a drop in the number of sunspots for he peak
of cycle 24. The peak is expected sometime around the year 2011 with a sunspot number range of between 67 and 83. That will
be the lowest number of any previous cycle since cycle 14. During that cycle in 1906, the sunspot number peak was only 64.
Solar cycle 23 was predicted to reach 160, much like cycle 21. Cycle 23, instead, peaked at 120.8 in April 2000, declined
considerably, then had a second peak of 115.5 in November 2001.
Following are the last five solar cycles with approximate dates and sunspot numbers:
Cycle 19 – 1954-1963 – 175
Cycle 20 - 1963-1975 - 115
Cycle 21 - 1976-1987 - 160
Cycle 22 - 1987-1997 - 159
Cycle 23 - 1996-2007 - 120
Since we are not completely through the low part of the cycle, new data could indicate a better cycle 24 than is predicted
at this time.
Cycle 19 had the highest sunspot numbers of any cycle between the years of 1700 and 2005. Cycles 21 and 22 were the next
highest magnitude since 1700 with the exception of a cycle that occurred from 1775 to 1784 and cycle 18 (1944-1954).