Like our online casino South Africa, our Solar System is filled with mystery and intrigue… but it is what is at the center of it – the Sun – that rules it all. If you’ve never heard of Solar Cycles, keep reading as we delve into what these events are. We also look at how they could affect technology on Earth – and thus your online gambling at Springbok Casino.
What Are Solar Cycles?
In short, the sun’s magnetic field goes through a Solar Cycle approximately every 11 years. During this time there are two extreme periods that marks the suns activity, known as solar minimum and solar maximum – also referred to as Solar minima and maxima. December 2019 marked the start of Solar Cycle 25, and it is projected to last until 2030.
The Solar Cycle was first discovered by amateur German astronomer, Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, in 1843, after 17 years of observing the variations in sunspots. Official record keeping of sunspots began in 1755 though – and based on that data, Solar Cycle 1 began in 1755. Solar Cycle 24 was the average cycle length of 11 years and was recorded to be the 4th smallest in intensity since record keep started.
What are Sunspots?
The sun’s surface is a busy place, with powerful magnetic forces called magnetic fields that are generated by the electrically charged gases. These gases are always changing… moving about, stretching and twisting the magnetic fields – and all this activity on the sun’s surface is referred to as solar activity.
Now, sunspots are areas on the sun’s surface called the photosphere that appear darker – and that is because they are cooler areas. When we say ‘cooler’, we still mean a scorching 3500°C or hotter! You would think that sunspots appear at solar minimum… but it is actually quite the contrary.
Sunspots appear when the magnetic fields are so strong that they keep some of the heat generated by the sun from reaching its surface. In other words, the sun is at its most active when there are more sunspots – because of the stronger magnetic fields during solar maximum.
Sunspots can be massive – in fact, up to 50,000km’s – and when there is such intense magnetic activity, and that energy is released, it results in solar flares, or solar storms, known as coronal mass ejections. These ejections can be so powerful that they can, for one, interrupt communication on Earth – and potentially halt your gaming at our online casino South Africa!
What Happened During the Last Solar Maximum?
The last solar maximum was in 2014. In a Spaceweather.com alert dated 26 February 2014, astronomer Tony Phillips stated, “Long-lived sunspot AR1967 returned to the Earthside of the sun on Feb. 25th  and promptly erupted, producing an X4.9-class solar flare.” He further stated that “This is the strongest flare of the year so far and one of the strongest of the current solar cycle.”
Although Earth, and your gambling sessions at our online casino South Africa weren’t in immediate danger from that solar flare, there were still concerns Earth. An official at the NOAA-led Space Weather Prediction Center said “Earth isn't totally out of the woods yet, however. This region of the sun is set to rotate more fully into view of Earth over the next week.”
The official further stated that, “X-class solar flares are the most powerful kinds of solar storms. If directed at Earth, last night's [25 February 2014] solar flare could have caused a serious geomagnetic storm, created when charged particles slam into the planet's magnetic field.”
We were lucky – and no major damage came from Solar Cycle 24’s solar maximum – and if you were playing at our online casino South Africa, you’d have been none the wiser. A powerful solar flare did however delay a private cargo ship’s launch to the International Space Station that previous month.
What Could Happen During a Solar Maxima?
Although playing at our online casino South Africa went uninterrupted during the last Solar Cycle, this can change, which is why scientists closely monitor solar activity daily. We are now in the early stages of Solar Cycle 25 – marking a period of solar minima – and who knows what solar maxima could have in store for us.
Back in 2014, astronomer Tony Phillips wrote that “Radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the CME suggest an expansion velocity near 2,000 km/s or 4.4 million mph. If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe.” He was referring to Solar Cycle 24 that had feeble 114 sunspots at solar maxima in the end (the average is 140 to 220).
Solar Cycle 25 is expected to peak in July 2025 with ‘just’ 115 sunspots – but anything can happen. Many experts are of the opinion that a cataclysmic storm similar to the Carrington Event of 150 years ago is way overdue. The only difference is that if a similar solar storm had to happen today, it could result in “up to $2 trillion in losses in the first year alone.”
How Could Solar Activity Result in Damage on Earth?
Simply put, increased solar activity results in the sun spewing off more highly energised particles during solar flares or storms, which could potentially have a catastrophic impact on electronics and power grids. Although the Earth’s magnetic field can deflect most solar winds, if the storm is too powerful, it will break through. A cataclysmic solar storm could effectively leave millions or even billions of people on Earth without power or communication.
In recent times, one of the biggest solar events happened on 13 March 1989 – a few months before the Solar Cycle was to reach its maximum stage that November. A coronal mass ejection resulted in a massive geomagnetic storm, which blew a transformer for the Hydro-Québec power network in Canada, leaving over 6 million people in the dark for 9 hours.
Astronauts are most at risk as up in orbit, where solar activity is even more dangerous – so if you’re a man in a spacesuit playing at our online casino South Africa, good luck! Apart from knocking out GPS and telecommunication satellites, solar activity emits intense amounts of harmful radiation which is a major health risk.
Although the solar maxima of the last century were fairly harmless – grounding occasional flights and causing radar malfunctions at most – it doesn’t mean we’ll always be this lucky. What can you do about it? Here’s the thing… nothing!
Play the Hottest Games at our Online Casino South Africa!
Since worrying about the next big solar storm won’t serve any purpose, we suggest that you head over to our online casino South Africa and focus on having fun! Come solar maximum in July 2025, the worst that could happen is some downtime. So, be sure to enjoy uninterrupted gaming at Springbok Casino while the sun is still at solar minima!