Sunspot count as low as the Maunder Minimum?

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Sunspot count as low as the Maunder Minimum?

Thought-provoking email from a reader

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21 Jan 09

Good Morning Mr. Felix,

21 Jan 09 - I've been following the sunspot counts with considerable interest, and I was noticing that even when there are sunspots (at least of late), they are only visible through various filters.  I've tried to find out when sunspots started being counted using filtered light, rather than full-spectrum visible light, but without any success.  It seems to me that during the Maunder Minimum, when no sunspots were observed, some sunspots would have been observed using the current technology.

This would mean the sunspot counts we see now are higher than observations prior to the widespread use of filters.  I've tried to find out when filters (hydrogen-alpha, k-line, dopplergram, etc) started being used, but without success.  It seems to me that there will be an offset due to the use of improved technology in determining sunspot counts.

Bob Heiderstadt

               This makes sense to me. If Bob is correct, perhaps our present
               sunspot count is indeed as low as the Maunder Minimum. That’s
               a scary thought.

. . . . .

               “I agree,” says Carol in Arkansas. “When comparing older data to
                newer data, would not the comparison be more valid if the same
                ‘tools’ were being used?”

. . . . .  

               “We probably could have slid into a full bore ice age during the
                Maunder Minimum,” says reader Mike McEvoy, “if our beloved
                deep water volcanoes caused a slight increase in the evaporation
                rate on the ocean's surface.  My gut has been telling me for a
                while we’re dealing with two or three out-of-phase oscillations
                that come into phase, then Zap.  Common engineering problem
                to deal with and one that often leads to destruction - Tacoma
                Narrows Bridge being a good example.”

              “We may be here....”





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