Solar Physics

, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 197–204 | Cite as

On the use of ‘first spotless day’ as a predictor for sunspot minimum

  • Robert M. Wilson


Defining the ‘first spotless day’ of a sunspot cycle as the first day without spots relative to sunspot maximum during the decline of the solar cycle, one finds that the timing of that occurrence can be used as a predictor for the occurrence of solar minimum of the following cycle. For cycle 22, the first spotless day occurred in April 1994, based on the International sunspot number index, although other indices (Boulder and American) indicated the first spotless day to have occurred earlier (September 1993). For cycles 9–14, sunspot minimum followed the first spotless day by about 72 months, having a range of 62–82 months; for cycles 15–21, sunspot minimum followed the first spotless day by about 35 months, having a range of 27–40 months. Similarly, the timing of first spotless day relative to sunspot minimum and maximum for the same cycle reveals that it followed minimum (maximum) by about 69 (18) months during cycles 9–14 and by about 90 (44) months during cycles 15–21. Accepting April 1994 as the month of first spotless day occurrence for cycle 22, one finds that it occurred 91 months into the cycle and 57 months following sunspot maximum. Such values indicate that its behavior more closely matches that found for cycles 15–21 rather than for cycles 9–14. Therefore, one infers that sunspot minimum for cycle 23 will occur in about 2–3 years, or about April 1996 to April 1997. Accepting the earlier date of first spotless day occurrence indicates that sunspot minimum for cycle 23 could come several months earlier, perhaps late 1995.


Boulder Solar Cycle Early Date Sunspot Number Solar Minimum 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Sciences LaboratoryNASA Marshall Space Flight CenterUSA

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