The Sun - Solar Cycle 24

We are now in Solar Cycle 24; the 24th since 1750 when modern Sun spot records began of the 11 year Solar cycles. Cycle 24 started in January  2008. The Solar Max for this cycle was predicted to be around mid 2013 (NASA) but in actuality showed a probable double peak with a max in April 2014 that surpassed the second most active date in February 2012. We are now heading for Solar minimum.

Below are the images that I have taken for this build up to maximum (starting in 2009). The sequence shows the increase in Sun spot activity.

All of the white light photos have been taken via my Meade 10" LX200 F10 classic with a Thousand Oaks white light sun filter using my Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) at Prime Focus. Exposure time is 1/125 sec at 100ASA. Each full disk image is a montage of about four to capture the complete disk.

All of my Hydrogen-alpha (Ha) photos have been taken with a Meade Coronado PST with a custom adaptor. Exposure times vary but are around 1/10 - 1/40 sec and 400 ASA.

Full details can be found in my Solar Photography articles here (for white light) and here (for Ha) which includes how to make to a custom adaptor for fitting a Canon DSLR to the PST.

The images below are reverse chronological order (i.e. latest first). The sunspot region numbers are those as designated by the Space Environment Centre of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

My current white light setup - Celestron C11" (with a f6.3 focal reducer or at prime focus), Thousand Oaks white light filter, Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i).

My Hydrogen-alpha (Ha) setup - Meade (Coronado) PST, Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) using a custom adaptor.

2nd September 2017

Cycle 24 continues to be on track as one of the weakest since accurate records began in 1750 and the Sun has been very quiet for many months. A rather nice group (2674) appeared recently. Visible and Ha photos below.



19th July 2016

We recently had a week of no visible sun spots at all (following June that had 10 days of no Sun spots) as we are now heading towards solar minimum. The image below shows a nice group that broke the drought.


2nd April 2016

Cycle 24 continues to be on track as one of the weakest since accurate records began in 1750. The image below is typical of the activity recently with just one visible sun spot.

9th May 2015

So far this year Solar activity has continued to decline as expected after the (rather poor) peak last year. However, Sun spot group 2339 is one of the largest so far this year. White light and Ha images below.


10th January 2014

This year starts with a surprise; Sun spot group 1944 is one of the largest this cycle and produced an X1.2 CME. White light and Ha images below.


29th December 2013

This year ends typical of this Solar Cycle; fairly quiet. There has been some increase in activity over the last couple of months (could this have been a 'double peak' for this Solar Cycle?). The image below is typical of the activity for the last couple of months. This solar cycle is now past its predicted max and has been rated as one of the weakest on record (NASA states the weakest since the Cycle 14 max in 1906).



21st July 2013

Still fairly quiet, with no significant activity so to keep thing interesting here's a Ha image showing some minor prominence and faculae activity.

30th June 2013

Still fairly quiet, with no significant activity. Below is a Ha image showing some minor prominence and faculae activity.


27th May 2013

Still fairly quiet, with no significant activity.


6th May 2013

The rotation and development of groups 1732 and 1734 can be seen compared to the the 5th May image.

3rd May 2013

Compare the white light and Hydrogen-alpha images that I took about 30 minutes apart.


7th April 2013

Group 1711 remains calm with no major flares.


A closer view of the 1711 group,

Change and rotation can be seen in comparison to the same photo taken the previous day as shown  below.

6th April 2013

Group 1711 has now rotated into view (see the photo from the 1st April for comparison), but no major flares have been recorded from this group.


A closer view of the 1711 group.

1st April 2013

Activity is low, but group 1711 looks like it could be interesting.

12th Feb 2013

The Sun has continued to be visually very quiet in the last couple of months. This is a typical example with a few small sunspot groups.


11th November 2012.

The Sun has been visually very quiet in the last few months considering this is the build up to Solar Max, NASA is predicting that this cycle (24) may well be the smallest sunspot cycle since cycle 14 in 1906. The picture below is typical of the activity I have seen since my last photo below in July.


15th July 2012.

Sunspot 1520 produced an X1.4 class solar flare and CME on the 12th July that caused some geomagnetic storm and aurora activity. Group 1520 reached approximately 300,000 km long. Due to the rubbish weather in England I captured the following picture three days later.


11th May 2012.

Sunspot 1476 is the largest that I have seen in this cycle. Apparently it is some 60,000 miles (110,000 km) in length,. Compare that to the Earth's 8,000 mile (12,7000 km) diameter! This group has been responsible for a number of M class flares, but no CME's yet.

22nd April 2012.

Some nice groups - activity has got interesting again!

25h February 2012.

Visual activity has taken a dip in the last couple of months and continues to be low, today's image is pretty typical.


15th October 2011.

Activity continues to pick up; the best sunspot count I have seen so far in this cycle.

1st October 2011


25th September 2011.

Things are getting interesting with a few groups on display; 1301 to 1305 with 1302 being the largest on the Eastern limb. I have labelled them in the photo below. A more detailed shot of group 1302 is also shown below (Meade DSI II).

Group 1302


21st August 2011.

Some quite nice activity - group 1271 (near centre), 1272 (southern) and 1274 (faint on eastern limb)

30th July 2011 - First light in my new observatory after moving house - hence the break in photos since January!

Nice groups - sunspot groups 1263 on Eastern limb,1261 and 1260 (left to right)



9th January 2011

Very quiet -  sunspot 1140 in the northern hemisphere


24th October 2010 

30th August 2010

Northern hemisphere sunspot groups 1101 (near centre) and 1102 (north east).

A closer view of the 30th August 2010 groups.


23rd May 2010

The 1 day rotation can be clearly observed via comparison with the photo below

Close up of the sun spot group. Taken using the same set-up as described above but with a Meade DSI I camera.

22nd May 2010


21st March 2010


28th December 2009