To us living on Earth the Sun seems to be the same day in and day out - fortunately for us it is very constant. But the Sun does undergo an eleven year cycle that goes from a Solar Minimum, a period where the Sun has few if any susnpots (areas of magnetic concentrations that disrupt energy production in the Sun's "surface" and appear as dark spots) to Solar Maximum - a period of intense solar activity capped by giant blasts of energy and material into space.
The Sun has just gone through a very deep and long Solar Minimum, lasting a longer period of time than was predicted. It appears the Sun is heading into Solar Maximum as unspot activity seems to be picking up. We also just experienced on the 14th the most energetic X-ray outburst from the Sun in four years.
We have spacecraft that are monitoring the Sun on both sides, STEREO A and STEREO B, the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). With this Maximum we will have the greatest collection of telescopes, spacecraft and instrumentation ever to watch, record and analyze.
I am looking forward to the results - and observing the Sun myself in the coming years.
Check the Sun out every day at: http://www.spaceweather.com/
Sky Guy in VA