For a while there in 2009 and early 2010 it seemed as if the sun had gone into sleep mode. Or worse, shutdown mode. After a good sunsport Cycle 23, it looked to all intents and purposes as if Cycle 24 was never going to arrive. 2009 was one of the poorest years on record for sunspots, with a total of 260 days (71% of the year) without any sunspots whatsover.
But, as the song goes, "Times, they are a changin'". Right now the sunspot number is 61. What we would have done to see figures like that a year ago! If the sun could be bribed into life, every amateur on the planet would have had his or her hand in their pocket, reaching for the wallet! But put your money away for now. The sun is coming to life of its own accord, without financial reward. Only 45 days of 2010 (16%) have been without sunspots.
At this moment in time, there are four different groups of sunspots, 1112, 1113, 1115 and 1116, of which 1112 seems the most active right now. The solar flux index (SFU) is at 84, and hopefully rising. When it goes up into the 90s, and especially close to 100, watch for the good DX on the higher frequency bands, especially 12 and 10 metres.