Ever since Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, a German astronomer, first noted in 1843 that sunspots burgeon and wane over a roughly 11-year cycle, scientists have carefully watched the Sun's activity. In the latest lull, the Sun should have reached its calmest, least pockmarked state last fall.
Indeed, last year marked the blankest year of the Sun in the last half-century -- 266 days with not a single sunspot visible from Earth. Then, in the first four months of 2009, the Sun became even more blank, the pace of sunspots slowing more.
Full story from New York Times
National Solar Observatory website