It's easy to forget how long people have been doing science. For example, we have decent sunspot data going back at least four hundred years:
Of course, people didn't really know what sunspots were until quite recently, and I don't think we're quite sure of their function/role in stellar development quite yet, but we do have a much better sense of what they are and what they do. And it matters: as the article points out, sunspots and other solar activity sends radiation and ionization through the whole solar system, affecting communications and, for those select few, travel.
The article isn't about history of science, except insofar as it's about the refinement of the 11-year sun cycle theory. But the chart caught my eye (particularly that late 17c lull).