What does the sunspot number mean?

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What does the sunspot number mean?


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15 Nov 08 -  The number right now is 11. But what does that mean?
According to Spaceweather.com, “scientists track solar cycles by counting sunspots -- cool planet-sized areas on the Sun where intense magnetic loops poke through the star's visible surface.

“Counting sunspots is not as straightforward as it sounds. Suppose you looked at the Sun through a pair of (properly filtered) low power binoculars -- you might be able to see two or three large spots. An observer peering through a high-powered telescope might see 10 or 20. A powerful space-based observatory could see even more -- say, 50 to 100. Which is the correct sunspot number?”

See rest of the explanation:
http://spaceweather.com/glossary/sunspotnumber.html
Thanks to Robert Worrall for this link



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