Hannes Alfvén Medal Lecture by David J. McComas & ST Division Outstanding ECS Award Lecture by Víctor M. S. Carrasco
Convener: Olga Malandraki
| Tue, 24 May, 19:00–20:00 (CEST)
Room L1

Presentations: Tue, 24 May | Room L1

Chairperson: Olga Malandraki
ST Division Outstanding ECS Award Lecture
On-site presentation
Víctor Carrasco

Rudolf Wolf, first director of the Zürich Observatory around mid-19th century, recovered a large number of sunspot observations made by astronomers several solar cycles back. Based on that database, he defined the relative sunspot number from the number of sunspot groups and individual sunspots. He extended his daily and monthly series until 1749, whereas his yearly series to 1700 (Clette et al. 2014). Nowadays, the World Data Center Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations is the responsible to maintain this sunspot number index. At the end of the 20th century, Hoyt and Schatten (1998) compiled more sunspot observations made by astronomers since the beginning of the 17th century. Thus, they created the group sunspot number index from the number of sunspot groups. Unlike the relative sunspot number, their series starts in 1610.

More recently, several works have detected some problems both in these two indices and the databases. For example, Vaquero et al. (2016) published a revised collection of sunspot group numbers correcting some of the mistakes found in the Hoyt and Schatten database, in addition to incorporate other unknown sunspot records. Currently, there is an ongoing global effort to improve the weakness of the database and recalibrate the indices. Some remarkable improvements to be carried out in future versions of the sunspot number databases have been made regarding the earliest sunspot observations recorded by astronomers such as Galileo and Scheiner, inter alia. Then, corrections of significant mistakes detected in the sunspot counting assigned to these observers in the existing databases are proposed as well as the incorporation of telescopic sunspot records made by the earliest observers not included in these databases.

The sunspot number series is the index including the longest direct solar observation set to study the long-term solar activity evolution and its influence on the Earth. Therefore, we need that the databases, in which these indices are based, are free of problematic observations and, moreover, to improve their observational coverage before mid-19th century. Thus, we will understand better past, present and future solar activity.


Clette, F., Svalgaard, L., Vaquero, J.M., Cliver, E.W.: 2014, Revisiting the Sunspot Number. A 400-Year Perspective on the Solar Cycle, SSRv 186, 35. DOI: 10.1007/s11214-014-0074-2.

Hoyt, D.V., Schatten, K.H.: 1998, Group sunspot numbers: a new solar activity reconstruction. Solar Phys. 179, 189. DOI: 10.1023/A:1005007527816.

Vaquero, J.M., Svalgaard, L., Carrasco, V.M.S., Clette, F., Lefèvre, L., Gallego, M.C., Arlt, R., Aparicio, A.J.P., Richard, J.-G., Howe, R.: 2016, A Revised Collection of Sunspot Group Numbers, Sol. Phys. 291, 3061. DOI: 10.1007/s11207-016-0982-2.

How to cite: Carrasco, V.: A Revised Collection of Sunspot Group Numbers: Context and Future Improvements, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8388,, 2022.

Hannes Alfvén Medal Lecture
On-site presentation
David McComas

The supersonic solar wind and its embedded magnetic field continuously flow outward in all directions from the sun. This magnetized plasma inflates a bubble – the heliosphere – in the very-local interstellar medium (VLISM). The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission launched in late 2008 and has been continuously returning 3-D global images of Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs) that derive from ion populations in the heliosheath and beyond. Now spanning more than a full solar cycle, IBEX’s all-sky maps and observations uniquely inform the global outer heliosphere and its evolving interstellar interaction. Insights from IBEX, in concert with in situ observations by the two Voyager spacecraft, which were transiting two different trajectories through the outer boundaries of the heliosphere contemporaneously with IBEX, have led to a true scientific revolution in our understanding of the outer heliosphere and its interstellar interaction. This Hannes Alfvén Medal Lecture will summarize some of the many discoveries and “firsts” from the IBEX mission and their implications for the outer heliosphere and VLISM. Finally, we will also look forward to the promise of the even more advanced Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, which is under development and slated to launch in 2025.

How to cite: McComas, D.: Our Heliosphere and its Interstellar Interaction: A Solar Cycle of Global Observations and Discoveries, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1115,, 2022.