Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The wait is over. Yesterday a magnetically reversed sunspot emerged at solar latitude 30 N, shown in this photo taken by Greg Piepol of Rockville, MarylandFor reasons explained in a recent Science@NASA story, this marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the first step toward a new solar maximum. Intense solar activity won't begin right away. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max (expected in 2011 or 2012). It's a slow journey, but we're on our way!
(Article from www.spaceweather.com)