## Political calculations the spotless sun electricity dance moms full episode

That’s how Dr. Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com introduced an article earlier this week on the approaching solar minimum, the point of the sun’s average 11-year cycle when the number of sunspots visible on the surface of the star typically falls to their lowest levels when compared to other points of time during its cycle. 2018 has been somewhat unusual in that the sun’s surface has been nearly entirely clear of sunspots during a large portion of the year-to-date.

When the number of sunspots declines to the low levels associated with solar minimums, the sun’s irradiance, or energy output, also declines and the sun dims, which might at first seems counterintuitive. How can the absence of comparatively dark spots on the sun’s surface lead to a decrease in the sun’s light output?

The answer is because when the sun’s surface is pockmarked with sunspots, it is also pockmarked with "faculae", which are bright spots on the sun’s surface whose increased light output more than offsets the effects of the relatively darker sunspots on the sun’s overall luminosity, making the sun brighter overall.

During a solar minimum however, the number of both sunspots and faculae decline, where the sun’s energy output declines by about one tenth of one percent below the amount of light that the sun emits during solar maximums, when the number of sunspots and faculae are at the highest levels of the 11-year solar cycle.

The key parameters that we need to do the math is the sun’s total power output (or luminosity, which is 3.828 x 10 26 watts) and the average distance from the Sun to the Earth (149,587,000,000 meters). We’ve plugged those values as the default values into the tool below, where we’ve also added a percentage adjustment factor to account for changes in the sun’s luminosity, which we’ve set at 0.0%. Let’s run the numbers (if you’re accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click here to access a working version of the tool at our site). Solar and Astronomical Data

For the default values, we find that the maximum amount of insolation, or solar irradiance, that can reach the Earth at its average distance from the is 1,361.4 Watts per square meter [W/m²]. That’s not the same as the amount of solar energy that will actually reach a given square meter on the Earth’s surface, where factors like the atmospheric conditions, the curvature of the Earth’s surface, where the Earth is in its orbit, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, et cetera, will directly impact that value, but this is a decent reference value for considering the amount of total solar energy that can make it out to the Earth from the Sun.

A change of 0.1% may not sound like much, but the sun deposits a lot of energy on the Earth, approximately 1,361 watts per square meter. Summed over the globe, a 0.1% variation in this quantity exceeds all of our planet’s other energy sources (such as natural radioactivity in Earth’s core) combined.

That 1,361 W/m² figure assumes that the Earth is at its average distance from the sun. Because the Earth’s orbit is elliptical however, it can be as close as 147.1 billion meters to the Sun (as it was on 3 January 2018), or as far away as 152.1 billion meters from the Sun (as it will be on 6 July 2018).