Ham radios operators around the world rejoice — Solar Cycle 25 has officially begun! The Royal Observatory of Belgium has reported the solar minimum likely occurred in December of 2019. The solar minimum marks the lowest point of sunspot activity and is the official start of a new cycle.
Amateur radio and shortwave enthusiasts alike have been living with the tail end of a weak solar cycle for years. This means signals on High Frequency (HF) bands have not been good, but that’s now changing and will continue to improve for years to come.
In January 2020, the 13-month smoothed sunspot number rose for the first time since the maximum of cycle 24 (April 2014). Now, by September 2020, this reversal of the trend was firmly confirmed, officially placing the minimum between cycles 24 and 25 in December 2019.Royal Observatory, Belgium.
Solar Cycle 24 had the fourth-smallest intensity since regular record-keeping began with Solar Cycle 1 in 1755. It was also the weakest cycle in a century. Scientists forecast that Solar Cycle 25 will be a fairly weak one, similar to Solar Cycle 24.
There are numerous forecasts calling for lower activity in sunspots, but that’s only a prediction. Regardless, HF propagation will only be getting better for many years to come. Time to dust off that long wire and fire up that amplifier!