- by Steve Williams
- November 19, 2013
In the most alarming, and science fiction-sounding, news you’re likely to hear for a while: the Sun’s polarity is about to flip upside down. Ignore the scare stories that this could wipe out world communication: for us Earthlings, the flip will likely be a beautiful nonevent.
The first thing to know is, this isn’t the first time the sun’s polarity has shifted. In fact, it happens about every eleven years, and how it happens is rather interesting.
Throughout the eleven year cycle, the sun’s activity builds and builds. During this time, the sun begins to develop so-called sunspots or active regions of intense magnetic activity that present as blotches close to the sun’s equator. These active regions spread toward the poles and cause the sun’s polar magnetic fields to weaken. When the poles reach zero they rebound, but with north and south reversed. The process then begins again. The mechanics behind the flip aren’t precisely understood and, as usual, scientists around the world are keen to examine the entire happening for any clues as to the mathematical workings of this amazing solar event. Continue reading