NASA Releases New Predictions for Solar Cycle 24......An international panel of experts -- led by the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA) and sponsored by NASA -- has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle: Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots. "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78,". This report clarifies a NOAA report from earlier this month that stated that Solar Cycle 24 would bring "90 sunspots per day on average."
Looking at the date, they are predicting the peak to be between 80 and 100 sunspots per month at the peak. So what does this mean? Let's compare it to previous cycles...
It looks as if it will be similiar but slightly lower than the peak of 1968/9 but worse than the last 3 peaks. What does this mean in practical terms?
In reality, near the sunspot maximum, the HF bands (14 MHz to 28 MHz) will be hopping and there will be worldwide dx regardless of how bad it turns out to be. The big issue is what will propogation on 50 MHz be like?
I remember reading before that the peak of 1968 was supposed to be pretty poor for DX on 6 metres with slim pickings via F2. If it turns out as predicted, I'd expect that there will be plenty of F2 type openings North-South from say Europe to Africa and South America. The big problem is will the MUF get high enough to support East-West type openings from say Europe to North America?....or Europe to the Far East? Stations in Southern Europe will probably work loads (EA/CT/I/etc) but what about those above 50 deg North?