Beleaguered DXers, take heart … solar cycle 25 is starting its engine! SpaceWeather.com reports that in mid-November, a small sunspot made a brief appearance in the Sun's northern hemisphere, vanishing a few hours later. What was notable, however, was that its magnetic polarity was reversed from that of the vast majority of Cycle 24 sunspots. That, along with its location far from the Sun's equator, indicates that this "ephemeral sunspot" is an early messenger of Cycle 25.
According to SpaceWeather.com, this is the third Cycle 25 sunspot observed to date. It points out that it is common for sunspots from different cycles to coexist during the transitions from one cycle to the next, and is generally a process that plays out over the course of a year or two (so Cycle 25 has not yet really started).
The presence of these early Cycle 25 spots appears to provide reassurance that there will be a Cycle 25, allaying fears that we may be heading for another "Maunder minimum," a lengthy period with virtually no sunspots. "The solar cycle is still operative," notes SpaceWeather.