North is now south and south is now north. Our Sun has reached the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, and in the process it has its magnetic poles now flipped upside-down.
Solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University predicted the reversal in August this year. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system,” Hoeksema had said. According to Dr. Tony Phillips, who first reported the imminence of the reversal in August, “The domain of the sun’s magnetic influence (also known as the “heliosphere”) extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field’s polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.” Sun’s North Pole had changed its sign in early December while South Pole was fast catching up.
We the Earthlings have nothing to worry about, although this phenomenon may have interfering effects on space exploration activities. Solar cycles are a regular phenomenon, each one lasting for 11 years, by the end of which Sun’s polarity changes completely. It takes an additional 11 years, or one more cycle, for the poles to be back in position. Wikipedia says, “the solar cycle (or solar magnetic activity cycle) is the periodic change in the sun’s activity (including changes in the levels of solar radiation and ejection of solar material) and appearance (visible in changes in the number of sunspots, flares, and other visible manifestations).” Solar Cycle 24 started way back in 1997, and ideally what should have happened in 2008-09 is happening now, about four years late. According to rt.com:
Solar Cycle 24 has been viewed as quite unpredictable. First, it came late by about a year, with extremely low activity recorded throughout 2009. This prompted astronomers to shift a predicted 2012 peak to 2013. Scientists say the cycle is already among the weakest reported and if the trend continues, the Earth might see another Little Ice Age.
If all goes well, we shall see our Sun’s North back at north and South back at south by 2025. Those living near the poles (Earth’s) may experience this weird phenomenon by observing the more pronounced aurora borealis and australis.