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Sun Stars in Solar Max Webcast Today: Watch It Live

Sunspot AR 1944 Seen in Sulmona, Italy
Astrophotographer Giuseppe Petricca sent in a photo of the sunspot AR 1944, taken Jan. 7, 2014, in Sulmona, Italy. He used a piece of welding glass to filter the sun, producing the green color. (Image credit: Giuseppe Petricca)

The active sun will take center stage in a live webcast from the online Slooh Space Camera today (Jan. 15).

The sun is currently in the active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24. So far, experts think that this has been the quietest solar maximum in the last century. However, the sun has been a bit more active in recent weeks due to a huge sunspot — called AR 1944 — that appeared earlier this year. Slooh will broadcast live views of the sun accompanied by expert commentary detailing the sun's uptick in activity. You can watch the 30-minute sun webcast live here, beginning at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).

The sunspot AR 1944 is about seven times the size of Earth. A powerful solar flare shot of by the sunspot is responsible for delaying the launch of a private Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station. [See photos of the biggest solar storms of 2014, so far]

"Researchers are excited and a bit dumbfounded by the odd behavior of the sun since the last peak 14 years ago," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "There is increasing speculation that the nearest star might have already entered a deep, extended era of reduced solar activity. No one in the field is ignorant of the dramatic cessation of virtually all solar storms from 1645 to 1715, accompanied by extreme cold here on Earth, and widespread hardship."

"It remains unlikely that the sun is on the verge of becoming that extreme; nonetheless at the back of our minds flit the possibility that the sun's strangeness will not be transient," Berman added. "On Wednesday, we will review the consequences of that 17th century 'Maunder Minimum' and see how a present-day version might affect our world."

You can also watch the webcast directly through Slooh at www.slooh.com, as well as via Slooh's iPad app.

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Miriam Kramer
Miriam Kramer joined Space.com as a staff writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also serves as Space.com's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. You can follow Miriam on Twitter and Google+.