Take a peek at the sun through NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and you’ll spot something genuinely scary: the sun just went blank.
Seriously: the thing looks like a snooker ball, or some giant sightless eye in space.
But it’s actually part of the sun’s normal cycle of activity – as sunspot activity dwindles towards ‘solar minimum’.
It’s part of a cycle which repeats roughly every 11 years – and last week marked the lowest level since 2011.
NASA says, ‘This week the sun was hitting its lowest level of solar activity since 2011 (Nov. as it gradually marches towards solar minimum. This activity is usually measured by sunspot count and over the past several days the sun has been almost spotless.
‘At this point in time, the sunspot numbers seem to be sliding downwards faster than expected, though the solar minimum level should not occur until 2021. No doubt more and larger sunspots will inevitably appear, but we’ll just have to wait and see.’
‘The sun has a pendulum-like pattern of solar cycle of activity that extends over about an 11-year period. The last peak of activity was in early 2014.