The Solar Cycle
Everything we’ve seen so far on the solar tour has been shaped by the Sun’s activity, which ebbs and flows over an 11-year cycle. To understand the Sun’s effects on space, we need to get to the bottom of the solar cycle.
How one scientist predicts the solar cycle
Solar scientist Lisa Upton builds computer models to predict how strong a solar cycle will be. It’s her favorite part of her job – and important work for helping us plan and prepare for space weather events.
Learn how she makes solar cycle predictions and why she loves studying the Sun.
Tracking the solar cycle
Tracking the solar cycle is a huge effort. It takes measurements of the Sun’s magnetic fields, complex models, and – most importantly – daily hand-drawn maps of the Sun’s surface. In this story, learn how scientists around the world track the solar cycle.
Sketching the Sun
To track the solar cycle’s progress, scientists rely on observers who draw the Sun’s surface by hand, every day! Want to sketch one of your own?
Visit the latest from our SDO and see whether the Sun has sunspots today (scroll to HMI Intensitygram): https://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/