On the BBC news website today, there is an article stating that, although the sun is at the height of its 11 year solar activity cycle, the solar activity is actually very low. Scientists are comparing the low activity to a time way back in the 17th century when winters got so cold, the Thames froze over for many months. I've often wondered about this period of time and why the temperatures dropped as a result. It appears that the path of the jet stream alters when the sun's activity drops.
I personally felt we were enjoying a heightened awareness of the Aurora Borealis here in the northern hemisphere, but maybe this is perhaps the first cycle we've had, where digital cameras have become commonplace, and there are more photographers around than there has ever been.
I do hope the solar activity remains high for the next few years, but if not, well, it seems we have some very cold winters to look forward to - always a bonus for the landscape photographer :-)