Solar Maximum – You Have Not Missed Out!
The sun's magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun's inner magnetic dynamo reorganises itself. On 06 December 2013, NASA predicted that the sun’s polarity would flip sometime in December which would herald the peak of the current Solar Cycle 24. This peak in the sun’s activity is known as the ‘Solar Maximum’.
Solar Maximum is the period during which the Northern Lights tend to be at their strongest and most frequent.
At the time of writing (30 Dec 13) and despite reports to the contrary in certain parts of the media, NASA has not yet announced that we have reached Solar Maximum.
There is little doubt that the sun will reach the peak of this current cycle in the next few weeks but that does not mean that you have missed out on seeing the Northern Lights at their very best.
We think that NASA put it best when they say that reaching the peak of Solar Cycle 24 means that:
“Half of Solar Maximum will be behind us and half of it will be yet to come.”
Given that we have had two to three years of spellbinding Auroras pre-peak, there is every reason to expect even more fantastic Northern Lights over the course of the next few years.
Nellim Northern Lights. Image: Markku Inkila