Solar Physics

, Volume 194, Issue 1, pp 175–184 | Cite as

Relative sunspot numbers in the first half of eighteenth century

  • V. Letfus


We revised relative sunspot numbers in the time interval 1700 –1748 for which Wolf derived their annual means. The frequency of daily observations, counting simultaneously the number of sunspots and the number of sunspot groups necessary for determinating Wolf's relative sunspot numbers, is in this time interval very low and covers, on average, 4.8% of the number of all days only. There also exist incomplete observations not convenient to determine relative sunspot numbers. To enlarge the number of daily relative sunspot numbers we used the nonlinear, two-step interpolation method derived earlier by Letfus (1996, 1999). After interpolation, the mean value increased to 13.8%. Waldmeier (1968) found that the scaling factor k can be derived directly from the observed number of spots f and from the number of sunspot groups g. From the observations made at Zürich (Wolf and his assistants, Wolfer), at Peckeloh, and at Moncalieri during the years 1861–1928, we derived a new, more correct empirical relation. The resulting annual relative sunspot numbers are given in Table II. However, only for 26 years (53.0%) from the total number of 49 years was it possible to derive annual relative sunspot numbers. The observations were missing for the other years. This corresponds with results of Wolf, which gives the annual relative sunspot numbers for all 49 years. For the years when the data were missing, he marked these values as interpolated or very uncertain ones. Most of the observations originate from two data series (Kirch, Plantade), for which Wolf derived a higher scaling factor (k=2.0) than followed from the newly derived relation (k=1.40). The investigated time interval covers four solar cycles. After our results, the height of the first cycle (No. −4), given by Wolf, should be lowered by about two-thirds, the following two cycles (Nos. −3 and −2) lowered by one-third, as given by Wolf, and only the height of the fourth one (No. −1) should be unchanged. The activity levels of the cycles, as represented by group sunspot numbers, are lower by about one-fourth and, in the case of the first one (No. −4) even by two-thirds of the levels derived by us. The group sunspot numbers, derived from a much greater number of observations, have also greater credibility than other estimates. The shapes of the cycles, as given by Wolf, can be considered only as their more or less idealized form.


Data Series Solar Cycle Scaling Factor Eighteenth Century Interpolation Method 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Letfus
    • 1
  1. 1.Astronomical InstituteAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicOndřejovCzech Republic

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