Glossary term: Sunspot Cycle

Description: An approximately 11-year cyclic variation in the number of sunspots that form on the Sun, corresponding to a variation in the solar activity. A new sunspot cycle begins after a period of solar minimum, when the Sun has few to no sunspots. At the beginning of a new sunspot cycle, sunspots form at latitudes around +/- 30 degrees (north or south) from the Sun's equator. As the cycle continues, new sunspots form at the latitudes closer to the solar equator. After a while the number of sunspots forming decreases as the cycle moves past solar maximum to solar minimum, which indicates the end of the cycle.

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