Could it be that the length of a woman's skirt has more to do with the weather than the fashion prescriptions of designers in Paris and Milan? Mini-skirt, maxi skirt, slacks, shorts, global warming, global cooling. What to wear? Many high-profile women, such as Oprah and Michelle Obama, are now wearing skirts below their knees. It must be the fashion, right?
A long time ago, fashionable women wore long skirts with many petticoats. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, their skirts even covered their ankles. Was it modesty, fashion, cheap cloth, or cold weather? Believe it or not, the fashion may well have been inspired by necessity: the weather was simply too cold for shorter hemlines.
Weather historians and native legends agree that the greater the number of sunspots, the (generally) warmer the weather. From 1750 to 1960, sunspot activity was at a minimum. The number of sunspots during periods of maximum activity within these years rarely exceeded one hundred per year.
Women did not wear mini-skirts and short shorts until the 1960s; it could be argued that this was due to waning modesty and changing social norms, but it can also be argued that the 1960s was the first era when the sunspot maximum count exceeded two hundred per year, making for a much warmer climate (and more comfortable weather to wear shorter fashions). Since the 1960s, we have experienced solar maximums of almost two hundred per year in 1980-2, 1989-91, and the year 2000. Since that last period of solar maximum, we have now experienced almost 360 days of a nearly spotless Sun.
Is this an indication that we are returning to another ice age? As of April 1, 2008, the Sun has been spotless 90% of the time. If this rate continues through the end of the year, 2009 will match a sun spot rate not seen since 1913. Observers thought that the current solar minimum was ending in October 2008, when a series of sunspots formed, representing a new cycle, but the calm has since returned. We are in the midst of a deep solar minimum.
Wait a minute! A deep minimum of sunspot activity means we are in a cycle of global cooling. What happened to global warming? Are women really demanding longer skirts and denim slacks? If we going back to a period of cold weather, then maybe it is time to pack up our shorts and T-shirts and put them in storage.
What does astrology have to say?
The sunspot maximum in 1959 occurred with Jupiter in a conjunction with Neptune, a water sign. In 1970 the maximum occurred when Jupiter was again in conjunction with Neptune (however, that particular solar maximum never exceeded 125 sunspots per year—remember the fashionable "maxi-skirt?"). In 1980 the maximum occurred with Jupiter and Saturn conjunct in an air sign. In 1990, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune made conjunctions in an earth sign, and in the year 2000 there was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in an earth sign.
Statistically, 50% of solar spot minimums occur with Jupiter transiting an air sign. Jupiter is currently in the air sign Aquarius. 75% of the solar spot maximums occur with Jupiter in the same sign as Uranus, Saturn, or Neptune. Currently Jupiter is in the same Sun sign as Neptune and will travel to Pisces, where it will be in the same Sun sign as Uranus. Statistics are just probabilities, and they can fool you. We may well continue the sunspot minimum for several years. I would suggest that the probabilities of sunspots returning in 2010 are pretty good.
Previous Generations Saw Sunspot-Related Activity As a Good Omen
A flurry of sunspot activity will produce solar flares and geomagnetic storms, especially if the solar flare is aimed at Earth, but even a slight geomagnetic storm will produce auroras. Most auroras are green and yellow, but sometimes when the flares are intense the aurora will add red to its color spectrum. Past natives of the Polar Regions were awaiting specifically the more colorful auroras.
Native legends abound at the northern latitudes. The Aurora Borealis is seen fairly often, especially around the equinoxes. Swedish farming tradition suggests that the more brilliant Auroras foretell abundant crops, a rich harvest, and an abundant supply of fruit and fertile seeds. Scandinavian fishermen believed that the colorful auroras reflected great schools of herring and promised an opportunity to haul in large catches of their favorite fish. The Copper Eskimos in Alaska believed that colorful auroras brought good weather and excellent hunting. Brilliant auroras did inspire fear in some native groups, but most of them saw the display as spirits dancing and promising good fortune. They watched the colorful displays as the days grew longer and knew that it meant bountiful hunting.
Does Science Have Reason to Worry?
The solar wind pressure on the magnetosphere will increase or decrease depending on the size and activity of sunspots. According to Wikipedia, "[t]hese solar wind pressure changes modify the electric currents in the ionosphere. Magnetic storms usually last 24 to 48 hours, but some may last for many days."
A huge solar flare occurred on August 4, 1972, knocking out long-distance telephone communications in the state of Illinois. A similar flare occurred on March 13, 1989, which disrupted electric power generators in Canada; the blackout lasted nine hours in the province of Quebec, and aurora-induced power surges even melted power transformers. In December 2005, X-rays from another solar system disrupted satellite communications and a Global Positioning System.
There has also been speculation that 2012, the last year of the Mayan Long-Count Calendar and one predicted by many to be "the end of the world as we know it," will be a year of tremendous sunspot and solar flare activity, possibly setting the stage for the failure of power grids, satellites, and communications devices the world over.
Western astronomers have maintained careful records of sunspot activity since 1755. During the period 1645–1715, in the middle of the Little Ice Age, there was a period of low solar activity known as the Maunder Minimum. Scientific evidence indicates that low sunspot activity means cooling temperatures. The coincidence of low sunspot activity with the deepest low temperatures of the Little Ice Age supports such a connection.
Could we be heading for another Little Ice Age? The end of the world as we know it? Or simply less-revealing women's fashions?