Thursday, April 30, 2009

The sun is waking up.

Here's another image of the sun's surface. A sunspot has definitely formed; we just might be moving out of solar minimum.

What you're looking at is an image from the EIT (Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope) aboard the SOHO science satellite. This picture is created by detecting 195 Angstrom wavelength light, which corresponds to temperatures of 1.5 million degrees Kelvin. The important feature is the bright area on the right side of the sun. This is a sunspot, or an area of intense magnetic activity. This is a region where solar flares can develop, which makes my job far more fun.

Be sure to check out the latest images from the SOHO satellite.

Space Weather Workshop

Right now, the Space Weather Workshop, hosted by NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, is being held. This is the first time since 2006 that I have missed this meeting, which is a bit disappointing because it is very enjoyable. Today is the forecasting day when various agencies deliver updates on forecasting capabilities to NOAA, the Airforce and Navy, and each other.

You can see the types of information delivered at this conference by perusing last year's talks, available here.

To get an idea of the government's current space weather prediction capabilities, be sure to check out SWPC's website.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A bit of activity!

Ladies and gentlemen, the sun is trying its hardest to not be boring. From the Stereo satellite mission comes these images:

Is that a sunspot peeking around the side (the bright, active spot on the right hand side of the right image)? We haven't seen those lately...

EDIT: Bah! I've lost the images. See newer posts.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Final Top 100 Pick Draft Analysis

I increased my database to include top 100 rankings from 12 different sources. Integration was still slow due to miss and alternate spellings of names (popular corrections included Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Chris "Beanie" Wells, and many ways to spell "Laurinaitis".) Here's the results (again, a positive number means the pick was considered a value at that draft position; negative means the pick was a reach):

The Lions' picks within the top 100:
01) Matthew Stafford -3.33
20) Brandon Pettigrew -0.66
33) Louis Delmas -16.083
76) DeAndre Levy -25
82) Derrick Williams 8.25
Average Value = -7.366 (19th of all teams).

Best teams:
1: Chicago = 22.0416
2: Cincinnati = 17.1458
3: Philadelphia = 7.333

Worst teams:
30: Cleveland = -23.4375
31: Dallas = -24.667
32: Oakland = -34.194

Overall, these statistics don't mean much. It's just a ranking system based on how the experts viewed the players before the draft began. I'll likely repeat this exercise next year, but post results before AND after the draft. Hope you enjoy. Special thanks to NetRat for pointing out his list of draft resources!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Draft Software Working!

After >300 lines of sloppy Perl, I have created a program that does the following:
  1. Ingests as many top 100 draft boards as I can find (I need MOAR!)
  2. Average these boards together to create a consensus top 100.
  3. Compare this "uber-board" against the actual draft to assign scores to each pick. A positive score indicates that the pick was a value (player was picked later than expected based on the consensus big board.) A negative score indicates a reach (player picked earlier than expected based on big board.)
From this, I have some interesting data from the first day of the draft.

The scores for the Lions' picks:
1 Detroit == Matthew Stafford -3.5 (reach)
20 Detroit == Brandon Pettigrew 0.3333 (value)
33 Detroit == Louis Delmas -14 (reach)

Detroit had an average score of -5.7 (reach), ranking #19 of all teams.
The top teams, in order were Philly, Cinci, and San Fran.
The bottom teams were Buffalo, Cleveland, and finally... Oakland (by a lot - score of -37!)

Finally, here's the top ten players still available and their expected position (according to the consensus big board):
1: Michael Johnson (DE) = 37.66
2: Jared Cook (TE) = 51.33
3: Jarron Gilbert (DT) = 56.66
4: D.J. Moore (CB) = 59.66
5: Duke Robinson (OG) = 60
6: Jamon Meredith (OT) = 61.16
7: Rashad Johnson (S) = 62.33
8: Cornelius Ingram (TE) = 62.5
9: Shawn Nelson (TE) = 64.66
10: Shonn Greene (HB) = 67.5

Remember, these scores are derived from the average rank of the top 100 players based on six expert boards. I want to add more to adjust these scores; list some that I'm missing in the comments!

Current source data:
consensus draft (
Rick Gosselin (
Scott Wright's's big board - Ricky Dimon

Ranking the picks via consensus.

I'm building a program that averages the top 100 player rankings from many different draft sites. This will then tell you the average position on a top 100 board of any player. I need some more draft sites to integrate into this, however, so let 'er rip. When I'm done, I'll list each Lions pick and how high they should go based on the list of draft boards I've used.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The first pick of the 2009 NFL draft is...

Matthew Stafford has finally agreed to contract terms with the Detroit Lions. Tomorrow, the Lions will pick the Georgia quarterback with their first overall pick.

Thanks to Dave Birkett for breaking the story not only on his blog, but also the Lions forum. Per usual, there will be a ton of coverage on Birkett's blog and also at

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don McLeroy gets grilled

As I've said before, education standards in Texas are important to the entire nation because of that state's influence on textbook manufacturers. The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) is led by Don McLeroy, a career dentist and young Earth creationist (read: evolution denier and religious extremist). He has fought hard to have intelligent design and creationist teachings forced into science text books. To have this man weild so much power over this nation is very frightening.

It looks like the Texas senate may have had enough, however. At McLeroy's confirmation hearing, he was grilled by both Democrats and Republicans. There must be a 2/3 approval rate for him to be reinstated, and that is now a questionable outcome. Check out the Texas Freedom Network's live blog of the hearing!

EDIT: Some quotes from the blog to give you an idea of what McLeroy would like your kid to learn in public school:
5:36 - Sen. Shapleigh asks about McLeroy’s beliefs about evolution. McLeroy acknowledges that is is his personal belief that Earth is only 6,000 years old.

5:37 -McLeroy says almost everyone in his church rejects evolution and supports creationism. He describes himself as a young Earth creationist. He says he tells reporters that he wants to be up front and honest about his beliefs. “I think it’s a pretty rational view.”

5:54 - McLeroy: “I don’t see any way I’m imposing my religious views in anything I’ve done on the State Board of Education.”

5:57 - McLeroy: He rejects the suggestion that evolution is the foundation for studying all the biological sciences. “Genetics is the foundation. . . for studying biology. . . . Genetics is good solid science.” [Note: this is patently absurd. I suggest readers watch any Ken Miller talk about how genetics soundly supports our understanding of evolution and common ancestry.]

6:37 - Questions for McLeroy have ended. Now the committee is hearing testimony from others. First up is Dr. Ron Wetherington, a professor of anthropology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Wetherington served on the state board’s panel of “expert reviewers” for the science standards revision. He objects to McLeroy’s attempts to promote challenges to mainstream science because his religious beliefs are in opposition to evolution: “It is an embarrassment to have such a partisan religious bias, fundamentally anti-scientific, promoted by an appointed chair of the SBOE, and I urge you not to confirm this appointment.” [emphasis mine]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is it over?

The Detroit Lions have been keeping the entire NFL-world guessing about who they want for their first overall pick of the 2009 draft. A report by blogger Dave Birkett of the Oakland Press has broke a story claiming that Matt Stafford and the Lions are very near to signing a contract, making the young ex-Georgia quarterback the pick.

EDIT: Lions insider Tom Kowalski is refuting this claim. Conclusion: I don't know what's happening.

EDIT EDIT (Thursday Morning): It looks like what is happening is that the Lions have a deal on the table for Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry that both parties have accepted. They are using this as leverage to get quarterback Matt Stafford's agent, Tom Condon, to take a less pricey contract. If Stafford and Condon accept the Lions' terms before Saturday, it's over. If not, Aaron Curry will be the first pick of the 2009 NFL draft. Tom Kowalski broke these details at

I messed up!

After a period of no sunspots, the sun finally showed some activity as a single sunspot came into view. Unfortunately, I didn't jump on this news right away and now I cannot find a clear picture of the spot. This is quite disappointing, especially if I'm going to make this blog a good source of news concerning space weather. The best I can find is some questionable activity on the limbs, but nothing concrete. I'll pay better attention and post pictures as soon as we have some solar action!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sweet Sensationalism! The sun is coming to KILL!

Step 1: Read this article.

Step 2: Roll eyes.

If one needs an explanation as to the level of credulity present in the world today, look no further than our news media. The key to this article is how they wrap some good facts and good science in pure and total sensationalistic garbage to scare up as many readers as possible (isn't that how they all work?)

Good: Discussion of the effects of space weather, mention of the Carrington Event, mention of the solar cycle, and recognition of Dan Baker's constant work to raise awareness, especially among our leaders, of the problems space weather can pose.

Bad: Saying that the next solar storm of Carrington-proportions will happen within three years during what will likely be the weakest solar cycle this century! I've already discussed how our current solar cycle is exceptionally unspectacular; I'll be expanding on this shortly. Let me emphasize, however, that as far as we currently understand, we are not "due" for anything except the next solar maximum.

As if complete ignorance of the solar conditions both now and in the near future isn't bad enough, the author completely negates his fear-inducing title in his own article.

Meltdown! A solar superstorm could send us back into the dark ages - and one is due in just THREE years

Third-to-last line:
Of course, it may not happen in 2012 - it may not happen in 2023, the year of the next solar maximum.

So, it may not come in three years - or even fourteen - but you DAMN WELL BETTER BE READY! And just to show you what the sun will look like on that fateful day:

In case you missed it, the caption of the picture is "Trouble ahead: How the sun storm might look in London." Dear readers, I assure you- if the sun ever looks like this, the last thing we will worry about is the electricity going out.

Phil Plait asks a good question.

If you're not familiar with Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog, here's a good reason why you should get acquainted. Today he asks the question, "Why do people listen to celebrities?" Why, indeed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time to hike again.

I've had a bit of a hiatus from my hiking, but that came to an end today. Hiking in Los Alamos is amazing, and today was no exception. Based on a tip from a fellow researcher, I set out to hike the Otowi Mesa trail. I originally thought that this would be a shorter walk, but because of the varied terrain, it took around three hours round trip.

Here's a rough idea of where I went:

View Hike - April 19 2009 in a larger map

It was a fantastic time; check out the album on my Facebook page. Here's a preview:

The hike made me feel better about missing out on a snowboarding trip to Colorado on which I was invited. Considering that P.O. Box 1663 was hit with ~5 inches of snow on Friday (and Colorado with even more), I'm certain the powder was great.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Behold! The C.O.L.B.E.R.T.!

Steven Colbert recently won an online poll to have the newest module of the international space station named after himself. NASA, however, declined to use his name, instead opting for "Tranquility." A compromise has been achieved, however: the treadmill inside of the room will be named the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or C.O.L.B.E.R.T. Truly, this is a great day for the United States space program!

Edit: Now with patch!

Hope for Texas?

Great article over at Panda's Thumb concerning the Texas Board of Education. Remember: being home to many text book manufacturers, the education standards in Texas effect a good portion of the country!

Don't cap me, bro.

A recent move by internet providers, lead by Time Warner, is to change how they charge for service. Time Warner is switching from a speed-based cost tier system to a bandwidth cap cost tier, starting at ~$30 a month for a 5 gigabyte limit with expensive overage costs. ~$55 dollars will get you a 40 gigabyte limit. Compare that to broadband service from Comcast which has a 250 gigabyte cap, but is a speed-tiered system (i.e. they expect you to pay for the speed but don't expect you to reach the cap.) Just how limiting is this? Of course, it depends on your internet use, but the article provides an excellent example:
"Analysts estimate that a family who opts for the 40 GB plan and streams 7.25 hours of online video a week could end up spending $200 per month on broadband usage fees. For the sake of comparison, the average American household spends 60 hours per week watching TV."

This is a huge price increase made only more odious by the fact that such a cap would not reduce Time Warner's already low operating costs. The following is from this article:

In essence, this new cap comes down to a big money grab by Time Warner. And you better believe that other companies will quickly follow suit.

The company claims that testing of this service in small areas found that only ~10% of customers had overage costs. This may be true, but it is not a legitimate excuse for a few reasons. First, I tend to agree with this opinion piece about the real reasons driving this cap. Second, the internet is continuing to grow, and grow quickly. These caps will create an information ceiling in this country that will retard our progress.

Let me expand on that last point. We must all realize that the internet is THE medium for information in our lifetime. The torch has been passed from print news to radio to TV and now to the internet. Nearly every communication service we are familiar with is being replaced and greatly improved upon by internet-based services. Phones? VoIP and video conferencing. Print media? News sites, blogs, and twitter. TV and radio? Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, NetFlix streaming, Podcasts, Flash animation, internet radio... where does this list end? Throw in shopping, banking, remote computing, email, and vast pools of knowledge such as wikipedia. The internet is irreplaceable, growing to become the spine of our society.

Now consider that when compared to other developed countries (those of you who are familiar with the pattern here know that such comparisons rarely favor the US), the internet access available to US citizens is rather slow. Now toss in some download caps and what happens? When you retard the amount and rate of information available to the public, you retard that population's development and competitiveness against other populations who have unobstructed pipelines to these same resources.

While I will be writing to my legislators over this matter, and urge you to do the same, one congressman is already on the ball.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fine tuned?

It has been argued that the entire universe is fine-tuned for life. Any changes to the fundamental physical constants would make it impossible for life to develop anywhere, especially Earth. For example, change the magnitude of the strong nuclear force and stars cannot produce heavier elements necessary for life. Change the gravitational constant slightly, planets and stars cannot form. Clearly, we have the perfect combination of fundamental constants in our world and that is why we are able to be.

I've never liked this argument for a few reasons. First, how does the arguer know that changing these constants wouldn't lead to life in currently barren regions, despite making Earth uninhabitable? How do they know that there are regions that wouldn't benefit (in terms of supporting life) from these changes? Secondly, we know that life is tenacious. When we think we know what the requirements are to produce and support life, we find something on our own planet that surprises us. An excellent example is the discovery of tube worms that live near undersea volcanic vents (these animals need NO sunlight and survive in incredibly hot waters!)

A scientist at the University of Michigan (hail to the victors) decided to test the impact of changing the fundamental physical constants on a developing universe. He ran computer simulations of many universes, each time changing the gravitational constant, the fine structure constant, and a constant that represents the rate of various nuclear processes. He found that one-quarter of all the simulations ran yielded energy-producing stars- the first and most essential building block in a life-supporting universe.

As usual, this is far from a final answer on this topic, but it continues to provide evidence that life is fine-tuned to the universe, not the other way around.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

WAT? (part 2)

Note: Edited for accuracy; my first clip was NOT from the episode I claimed it was.


Oh, how I despise ye. You spread your pestilence of ignorance far and wide. Case in point: "The Secret." Not familiar? That's probably because you are a thinking person. It's a book that says you can have anything you want as long as you want it hard enough (read: don't really do anything.) Don't believe me? Here's a great parody summary. This is a great example of how she spreads misinformation to the credulous. It's not just insulting; it can be downright dangerous (I'm looking at you, Jenny McCarthy.)

Her latest kick, albeit not as potentially harmful to society, is documented here for your edification:

Okay, not so bad... a show about how to talk to your kids about sex. Great! But what could they be referencing when Oprah says there will be outrage? Oh, it's just the expert saying that parents should introduce their daughters to vibrators. Let me be clear: I'm not saying that you should shame your kids into fear of masturbation. But imagine how you would be affected if your sex talk went someting like this:
"Okay, Susie... you're a big girl now. Let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Wiggles..."

WAT? (part 1)

Oh, your witty take on everyday news always entertains. Today, however, you have gone above and beyond.

The user submitted headline:
"I don't want to say that gay marriage is responsible for mass murders but... gay marriage is responsible for mass murders"

Clearly an exaggeration, right? I mean, no article could be THAT over the top... right?

Actual Headline:
"Connecting the Dots: The Link Between Gay Marriage and Mass Murders"

Yessir, it's for real. Be sure to check out the comments on Fark, they are hilarious.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Return science to its proper place.

Phil Plait has an exceptionally important post over at Bad Astronomy. It's about a new effort to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment, a bipartisan group that provided scientific advice to the president. There is an online petition as well as a Facebook group. Check it out.

Detroit Lions Draft Chat

A bit off topic, but if you follow the Detroit Lions, you'll want to catch the draft podcasts led by Bob Gaunt. It's really good stuff!

Catch it at!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The internet just got more awesome.

Something Awful's (warning: typically not safe for work) Comedy Goldmine article brought a new world of wonder to my attention: Google Trends! You can finally see the trends in internet searches and unlock the hidden wonders of our E-world.

A few examples of what the Goons have discovered:
Figure 1: Well, duh.

Figure 2: I don't know how to explain this.

I've done a few of my own. There's a spike in searches for "alcohol poisoning" at every new year, and searches for "zombies" did not correlate very well with "brains" (surprisingly). Unfortunately, there's not enough data to see if searches for "space weather" fluctuates with the solar cycle...

The sun and global warming.

A large ice shelf in Antarctica has finally separated from the continent. This is a shelf that has been unchanged for a better part of the century, but over the past two decades has receded enough to break off. Climatologists are pointing to this as hard evidence of the severe global warming currently occuring on Earth.

I initially read about this story on, a news feed website with a healthy comment section for each story posted. The comments, as they tend to do on this site, were extremely diverse but had a stronger-than-usual dose of global warming deniers. An argument brought up repeatedly by this crowd was that the Sun is chiefly responsible for the increase in global temperatures, so we shouldn't worry about anything.

I don't buy it at all.

I will preface this entire argument with the following: I am NOT a climatologist, and my expertise lies in magnetospheric physics.

That said, I have a huge problem with the "Sun does teh warmnigs!" argument. I've already discussed that we are in a historically weak AND long solar cycle, and that we are floating in the duldrums of a pathetically long solar minimum (see this post and this post). While I focus on sunspot number when discussing the solar cycle, solar energy output follows the same pattern. This means the amount of energy delivered to the Earth by the Sun is less during solar minimum than solar maximum. We actually have a fairly good proxy to demonstrate that weak solar activity corresponds to global cooling in the Maunder Minimum.

The current solar cycle and the loss of this section of the Antarctic ice shelf is completely contradictory to their claims that the degree of global warming we are currently experiencing is a natural, solar driven process. If we were in a period of strong solar activity (or were within 5 years of solar max), the deniers might have a point -- but the exact opposite is currently true. Given this evidence alone, I reject the hypothesis that our global warming situation is due entirely to changes in solar activity (or even strongly influenced by it!)

Some caveats that must be posted: 1) The relationship between solar activity changes and our climate is complicated and far from understood. 2) I am not a climatologist. Nor am I a true solar physiscist. I'll see if I can scrounge up a specialist to comment on this. 3) This argument completely neglects the evidence demonstrating human influence on global warming.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Go Spartans.

Yes, I am a U. of Michigan alum, but I have a hard time disagreeing with this editorial. Michigan is a great place seeing tough times; excellence in sports is one of our last remaining sources of pride.

Go Spartans, go green!

Sew What?

A side project of mine has been to get a lot of interesting video footage of Los Alamos from many different perspectives. This has started slow, but it's coming along.
One of the more ambitious segments is a working dash cam to capture the landscape as one drives through it. Early attempts suffered from car vibration and window glare. The glare solution is forthcoming; I may have solved the vibration issue this past weekend.
During my trial run I realized that I needed something to hold the camera that was both heavy enough to stay in place but soft enough to damp the shaking of my poor ol' Ford Focus. The ideal object would be cloth, with a bean-bag type bottom but a cotton-stuffed top. With a prototype in mind and my dear wife assisting, I took to the sewing machine to see what I could do.
Spoiler Alert: Sewing is not as easy as it looks. I swore a lot. In the end, I believe I am much closer to instituting my personal dash cam. I am hopeful that I can have some test footage up here soon.

Texas Bans Vista.

From this article:
"We are not in any way, shape or form trying to pick on Microsoft, but the problems with this particular [operating] system are known nationwide," Hinojosa said. "And the XP operating system is working very well."
Wow. Doesn't get more damning than that. Microsoft can't wait to get Windows 7 rolled out to end this Vista nightmare.
This post brought to you by Linux.

Opening Day!

Detroit Tigers at Toronto, 7:15 PM. Let's see if Verlander can get the team rolling!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Space weather affects us all - even the hooved ones.

A colleague and I were discussing Google street view (see previous post) and Google Earth today when he mentioned that using Google Earth, researchers have found that grazing animals, such as cows, tend to align themselves in a North-South direction. This would imply that these animals can sense the Earth's magnetic field. I responded that, in a possibly related story, one of the Google street view cars had hit a deer. Conclusion: get back to work.

Later, a good friend who now works at NASA called to let me know that he had run into a ground-breaking peer reviewed article. As it turns out, low frequency disturbances of the Earth's magnetic field (say, from power lines) effects the animals' orientation, breaking the typical poleward tendencies.

What can't science do?

I will now desperately try to make this relevant to this blog. During solar storms, there are strong deflections of the Earth's magnetic field, even on the surface. This leads to a plethora of effects: overloading of electric relay stations, intense heating of long oil pipelines, and... THE CONFUSION OF OUR CATTLE, WHO PREFER TO FACE NORTH-SOUTH.

Space weather affects us all. We must remain vigilant.

I'm torn on this one.

Is this hilarious, brash, or justified?

I'm leaning towards hilarious only because I only imagine angry villagers, complete with pitchforks and torches, chasing the small google-mobile away.

EDIT: ...while the driver of the car yells, "RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!"

One last Detroit post...

If I had any readers -- and it may be a long time, if ever, before this blog has any following -- I am certain I would be boring them with all of this discussion concerning one of my favorite cities. The reason I wax poetic about the problems of Detroit is because I find it to be a modern day parable that teaches the lesson of what happens when citizens, under the guise of caring about their city, do nothing. Those currently in control found power in the overarching apathy. Without concerned citizens constantly fighting for true leadership, true accountability, those with misguided and ill intents can silently grab the reigns.

At this time, no one better embodies this than council president Monica Conyers. She is the focus of yet another unflattering news article, one that brought the typical grimace to my face. Desensitized to her madness, it wasn't that she hired her brother to a city position that upset me. Nor was it her brother's growing list of felonies, nor the fact that she lied about their kinship, nor the fact that he was constantly reassigned to the position for 2 years despite it being a 120 day post. Instead, it was the single sentence haunting the end of the article:
"[This] practice is not uncommon in Detroit."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A small step.

Anyone familiar with Detroit politics is familiar with the monster that is Monica Conyers. Inflammatory, ignorant, racist, power hungry. Check out a few of the youtube videos of her in action. As president of the city council, she has worked hard to bring more shame to a once proud and beautiful city.

It looks like someone has finally decided that enough is enough. Councilman Kwame Kenyetta is fishing for some punishment. This may be a mere slap-on-the-wrist, but it's a small step in the right direction. Detroit's leaders cannot be bullied forever.

Hmm... two D-town posts in a row. Time to put down the Free Press for a while and do some science.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This is unexcusable.

This blows my mind.

Let that sink in for a second: 40 to 70 schools will close.

Oh, Detroit... what will we do?

Apparently I am a Psychic.

Minutes after posting about how little solar activity there is at the moment, I have found out that it's even calmer than I thought! We are currently in the fourth longest solar cycle in recorded history and will likely climb further up the list as the sun spot number (SSN) continues to fall. In March, we experienced 28 days without a sun spot (last year, March saw only 17 days without a blemish.) The averaged sunspot number values imply that we are likely to dip lower in the solar cycle, with fewer sunspots in April and possibly May.


What are we missing out on? Check out this and this.

Solar min sucks.

All's quiet on the space weather front.

I may have made a critical mistake by instituting this blog during solar minimum. Space weather is boring right now. booorrrriiinnnggg.

The solar cycle is the 11 year period in the number of sunspots appearing on the surface of the sun. During maximum, the number of spots is at a peak and solar storms occur frequently. This leads to great videos of solar flares and coronal mass ejections, space weather storms at Earth, strong aurora, and bad impacts on technology (more on that in forthcoming posts.)

Right now, we're in solar minimum. What's happening in space? Jack crap, that's what. Just to give you an idea of how boring the sun is, examine the following:

This graph, from the Space Weather Prediction Center, is up-to-date as of the end of February. The blue/black lines are actual data; the red line is the sunspot forecast. As far as sunspots, we have bottomed out. This limits the amount of space weather news I can blog about -- especially exciting stuff.

As for the forecast, this is an extremely difficult prediction and rarely is accurate. In a few weeks, SWPC's annual Space Weather Workshop will commence and an updated prediction will be reported. While I won't be attending this year, I will blog on any important news that I hear from it.