Rich is the scientist in our family, and he was commenting after reading my post on the new sunspot cycles that since these cycles alternate between positive and negative, perhaps each 11- year cycle is actually one-half of a larger 22-year cycle.

An article on the site of the National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR) by Jackie Slevin told the story of John H. Nelson, who is called the “patriarch” of sunspot research:

An amateur astronomer since boyhood and radio operator for RCA Communications, Nelson pioneered solar research and forecasting through over 25 years of rigorous experimentation. In 1946 he was given the title “Short- wave Radio Propagation Analyst,” and began a course of scientific observation, the results of which ended in unexpected controversy. “We have come to realize that the Sun is doing something to the planets, or the planets are doing something to the Sun that the presently recognized laws of science cannot explain. Though sunspots have never been completely understood, I found, through careful observation, that they are predictable. Why the predictions come true is not readily apparent. When future amateurs or scientists find a scientific explanation for what is taking place in the solar system, on the Sun and in the ionosphere of the Earth, we can take the subject out of the occult and assign it a scientific basis. I am confident this will be done someday.”

I found this paragraph about sunspots and the church particularly compelling:

The Chinese have been recording sunspots since ancient times, but it was the Renaissance scientist Galileo Galilei who, after viewing them with this homemade telescope, reported them to scholars in sixteenth century Italy. Scholars at this time were connected to the Catholic Church, whose strict dogmas did not allow for much free thinking. The Church doctrine on the Sun and planets was based on Aristotle, who stated that the Sun was perfect and free of any blemishes whatsoever. After repeatedly insisting that the Sun did show black spots on its surface periodically, Galileo incurred such fundamentalist wrath he was informed that, unless he rescinded his statement, he would be punished by torture. Following exasperation and anguish, Galileo finally retracted his statement, but is said to have muttered under his breath immediately afterwards, “but I did see them.”

It’s an interesting aside that Nelson ultimately developed an interest in astrology as a result of his research into sunspots and the effect of the planets on their activity. Still, I could find no useful information on the alternating positive and negative sunspot cycles. Any ideas out there?

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