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Space Earth Science

The Sun Has First Spotless Month Since 1913 571

Posted by timothy
from the doctor-which-spf-should-I-choose-now? dept.
radioweather writes "August 2008 has made solar history. As of 00 UTC September 1st 2008 (5PM PST) we just witnessed the first spotless calendar month since June 1913.This was determined according to sunspot data from NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center, which goes back to 1749. In the 95 years since 1913, we've had quite an active sun, but activity has been declining in the last few years. The sun today is a nearly featureless sphere and has been spotless for 42 days total, but this is the first full calendar month since 1913 for a spotless sun. And there are other indicators of the sun being in a funk. Australia's space weather agency recently revised their solar cycle 24 forecast, pushing the expected date for a ramping up of cycle 24 sunspots into the future by six months." As one of the links above indicate, there was a "sunspeck" reported August 21/22, though. Reader MikeyTheK adds a link to a story at Daily Tech on the spotless record.
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The Sun Has First Spotless Month Since 1913

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  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:28AM (#24842819) Homepage

    The sun has discovered the best acne medication in the universe.

    • by Macthorpe (960048) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:37AM (#24843001) Journal

      All joking aside, does anyone else get the feeling they're changing the definition of a sunspot just so they can claim it was a spotless month?

      "Sunspeck" my arse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Of course. We have to show everyone that global warming is caused by a lack of sunspots, rather than the more obvious problem of excessive greenhouse gases. After all, the Earth is about be destroyed in the Rapture anyways, so why do we care?

        • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:01AM (#24843427) Journal

          I blame Geroge Bush for all this. Notice this report is out and FEMA hasn't responded yet.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:26AM (#24843955)

          After all, the Earth is about be destroyed in the Rapture anyways, so why do we care?

          Would be funny if it wasn't true - my mother-in-law just told me that global warming doesn't matter because when the world ends it will be an act of God and there will be nothing we can do about it anyway. The implications of this worldview are frightening.

          • by Chyeld (713439) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dleyhc.> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:11PM (#24845979)

            Would be funny if it wasn't true - my mother-in-law just told me that global warming doesn't matter because when the world ends it will be an act of God and there will be nothing we can do about it anyway. The implications of this worldview are frightening.

            The real sad part is, if she truely believed that then she would also believe/realize that we've been charged by God to be stewards of the land till that time. In other words, we should still care because he'll be taking it out of our security deposit.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JeanPaulBob (585149)

            Would be funny if it wasn't true - my mother-in-law just told me that global warming doesn't matter because when the world ends it will be an act of God and there will be nothing we can do about it anyway. The implications of this worldview are frightening.

            It doesn't even make sense within the worldview.

            Even assuming that the world won't end until God's ready, that leaves plenty of room for us to screw up the planet and make life hard. If the entire east coast of America is submerged under the sea, the

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by lgw (121541)

              At this point, she has as much evidence for her world-view as you have for your prophecy that "east coast of America is submerged under the sea" is a real prospect.

              People of diffeent religions should work on tolerance of one another's religious views.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by gangien (151940)

              If the entire east coast of America is submerged under the sea, the world isn't ended, now is it?

              sounds good to me! Westside for life!

        • by infinite9 (319274) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:29PM (#24846273)

          (disclaimer: I'm a christian with a CS degree)

          After all, the Earth is about be destroyed in the Rapture anyways, so why do we care?

          I know you were joking. But I thought I'd throw in what christians actually believe. The earth isn't destroyed in the rapture, directly anyway. In the rapture, the christians (from other humans' perspective) simply disappear. You non-christians are left to fend for yourselves. :-)

          Having said that, christians have been predicting the rapture for centuries. And jesus comes right out and says that it's going to seem like it's taking forever and should be any minute when it's really far in the future.

          So it's silly for people to use that as an excuse to not care about the environment. The destruction of the environment is not a christian value so I'm not sure why these people are thinking like this. Must be either an extra helping of crazy, dumb, or both.

      • Not to mention that it should probably be titled "It's been a spotless month, from the part of the sun that we can actually see - I mean, who knows what's happening on the other side?"
      • by Troed (102527) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:02AM (#24843461) Homepage Journal

        No, on the contrary. Small "sunspecks" cannot be seen without modern equipment and thus do not exist in the earlier records.

      • Dunno about changing definitions, but when my club [chesmontastro.org] set up for our big annual star party, the solar observing was a complete bust - no flares, no spots, just a big rubber ball....

      • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:57PM (#24845759)

        > All joking aside, does anyone else get the feeling they're changing the definition of a sunspot just so they can claim it was a spotless month?

        Actually my thought was more the opposite. I have made spaceweather.com one of my daily visits. When it looked like a sunspot MIGHT be forming the official sunspot number went from zero to three. Eh? Don't you actually have to have a spot to count it? Then the area of interest went away and they put the number back at zero. Looks like somebody decided somebody jumped the gun and corrected the records.

        Now why might this have happened? Why do papers predicting a period of low solar activity fail to be published (see the full articles)? Could it be the same reason scientific papers questioning global warming end careers without ever seeing the light of day? And of couse the refrain from the warmers is "all peer reviewed science supports man made Global Warming!" Science isn't becoming politicized, it IS politicized. Global Warming is the vehicle whereby "Scientific Socialism" is to bring untold political power to the 'elite educated and wise' few, and a rational planned and controlled world to the poor miserable peasants who would otherwise revert to cannibalism (or worse, a life of free markets without the elites) without their enlightened rule. Thus whether it is true or just a fairy tale is a question that must not be permitted to be entertained by 'serious people.' And the quickest way to ensure that is to define the phrase 'serious people' such that it excludes all who disagree with the official party policy.

        • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @03:27PM (#24848381)
          Now why might this have happened? Why do papers predicting a period of low solar activity fail to be published (see the full articles)?

          Sun spot cycles we a well known phenomenon. [wikipedia.org]

          The low point of the cycle has been predicted for 2007-2008 for the last 20 years!

          This graph [nasa.gov] is one such prediction that you say has been suppressed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Scaba (183684)

      The sun has discovered the best acne medication in the universe.

      ...which is Proactiv. I'll be straight up with you - the sun don't want no bumps on its face, so it's using Proactiv, which helps moisturize its situation and preserve its sexy.

  • by tsa (15680)

    Great, now I know why summer this year was, well, pretty nonexistant really.

  • LHC?!? (Score:4, Funny)

    by MindKata (957167) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:35AM (#24842957) Journal
    "Sun Has First Spotless Month Since 1913"

    Ok, who switched on the LHC! ... see, its not a black hole making machine, it actually washes whiter than white.

    Ha!, that'll stop the critics who think the earth will vanish in a instant... see nothing to worry ab.o.u..t... [KABOOOMMMMMM ... zip ... crush]
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:35AM (#24842963)
    When a big solar storm turns off GPS for a few hours or days. I know some people that have become dependent on their nav-computers.
    A weak solar cycle may postpone this problem.
    • When a big solar storm turns off GPS for a few hours or days. I know some people that have become dependent on their nav-computers.

      If drivers cannot find their way around the old fashioned way then maybe they have no business on the road and should have their licenses revoked.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:04AM (#24843497) Journal

        It's quite strange. A friend of mine moved so I plucked his new address into my little gps nav unit and used it to find his house. A week later I thought about it and couldn't even think of how to get there so I pulled up the route and used it again with out a second thought. After about 2 months of this it dawned on me that I had no idea how to get there without my little nav unit. I finally forced my self to find it without the unit. One time doing that and I didn't need it any more.

  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:37AM (#24842987) Homepage

    I can't wait to come back later and find out how this is caused by George W. Bush, the US, or Bush's failure to sign on to the Kyoto treaty (even though Clinton was president at the time).

  • by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption.kuruption@net> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:39AM (#24843033) Homepage

    OH MY

    So... CO2 causes global warming, apparently on Mars and Jupiter too. Yet when sunspot activity decreases, this whole global warming trend slows down (to the tune of no increase of global temperature in over 8 years). And in the 1990s when sunspot activity was some of the highest ever recorded, global temperatures rose. I wonder if this is a coincidence.... or is it?

    So really... are you all still addicted to that theory? That it's all about the CO2?

    • by AtomicSnarl (549626) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:50AM (#24843243) Homepage
      Perhaps we're entering another Maunder Minimum [wikipedia.org] for a phase of Global Cooling.

      The next few centuries could be fun!
      • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:38PM (#24845443) Homepage Journal

        This is precisely what is being discussed right now among some climatologists. The problem isn't so much that there is a solar sunspot minimum, but rather that the current trend is that the number of sunspots is still statistically dropping when in fact it should be going up dramatically.... given a more typical historical trend over the past couple of centuries.

        The delay of the start of the next sunspot maximum cycle is what is causing all sorts of head scratching and wondering if there is some other cycle that until now hasn't been observed in the sun. All I can say is thank goodness that there is historical data going back to the 1700's that can confirm this is something that could happen, even if there are a few individuals who don't get it.

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:51AM (#24843275) Journal
      is that our temps are at all time highs. Yes, it is down SLIGHTLY i.e. a very small local minima, not even close to an absolute minima. So, if there is a correlation to temps the way that ppl like you push, what happens when sunspots increase?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "what happens when sunspots increase?"

        Uh, let me guess here. Temps increase.

        I think what needs to be focused on is not the "who's right or wrong about global warming," but the fact that there are so many factors involved. We need to understand how CO2 (or any other green house gas) affects the temps so we can manipulate temps and offset the cooling cycles of the Sun and keep a more consistent temp base for the planet. UNLESS, the Earth itself requires heating and cooling cycles to sustain life.

        The process

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bobbuck (675253)
        We have semi-accurate temperature data for a short time and the warmest year in the US was 1934 based on that. Yawn. Wake me up for the next groupthink scare.
    • by antirelic (1030688) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:27PM (#24845227) Journal

      Ok. I'll bite.

      What are you trying to say? Dont be vague, just say it.

      I'm not "addicted" to the theory of CO2 having a negative role in "climate change". I'm as "addicted" to that "theory" as I am "addicted" to the theory of "gravity". I simply dont know any better, logical, explination. Perhaps CO2 impact is more of a hypothesis, but a lot of scientists are pretty sold on it.

      So if CO2 isn't a negative catalyst in global climate change, then what effect is it having on our planet? I mean, as far as I know, the CO2 isnt blowing out into outer space. Its going into the atmosphere and staying there (or being sequestered by other catalysts, but the pace of carbon output is known to currently be greater than the system can take it).

      I mean, stand in an air tight room, and pump CO2 into that room. You will quickly learn how changing an atmosphere by adding additional gases can really change things up.

      Again, for the "anti-greenhouse gas" people, please explain what effects CO2 is having, if its not having an effect on "climate change".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DanOrc451 (1302609)

      Sunspot activity or lack thereof has absolutely nothing to do with human caused global warming. Bear with me for a second here.

      It's been conclusively proven that increased carbon dioxide in a system prevents more incoming solar energy from escaping a system. This is demonstrable on a small scale with basic equipment, and is readily observable.

      It is also simply a fact that humans have been dumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I doubt anyone on this website doubts this.

      This kno

  • So let me get this straight.

    This has happened before, we're on the low point of a cycle according to even the wikipedia information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Sunspot_Numbers.png [wikipedia.org]

    Is there really any significance other than that? I don't mean that in a smartass way, genuinely wondering here.

    It seems to show the sun has active sunspot cycles, and less active sunspot cycles. Thus, we are at one of the less active cycles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by trongey (21550)

      Yes, it is history since it happened in the past. That's how history works. It's probably not a piece of history that will hold great meaning for many people, but this is the "News for Nerds" website.
      Nope, there's not a lot of other significance, unless you're interested in things like radio wave propagation or the effect of solar weather on space hardware.

    • by pablomme (1270790)

      If I understand correctly, we should be moving towards the maximum after the minimum in 2006-ish, but we are not; instead the number of spots is still going down. See the raw data [nasa.gov], and take into account that the cycle is on average about 10.5 years long.

  • Am I the only one who read the headline and thought "Sun Microsystems actually had a profitable month?" Doh!

  • Maybe that's why... (Score:3, Informative)

    by megamerican (1073936) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:53AM (#24843307)

    the Arctic ice refused to melt this summer. Does anyone remember the warning in June that the North Pole would be ice free? [nationalgeographic.com]

    Of course, their prediction was way off [theregister.co.uk] (as always). When someone realized how bad their prediction was, they fear monger some more with more dire warnings! [chron.com]

    Remember that they have only been keeping sat. data for ice extent for a little over 3 decades, which of course is when the sun has been in a very active period.

  • Forecast pushed back (Score:4, Informative)

    by VAXcat (674775) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:55AM (#24843329)
    Ah good - that gives me more time to get my HF antenna up. No sunspots - no HF radio propagation....now I can put off climbing up on the roof.
  • Cue the theories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squoozer (730327) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:58AM (#24843367)

    As to how the Earth is heating up due to there being too few sun spots or birds are falling out of the sky and little children are being eaten by monsters at the worlds edge.

    I'm really interested in stories about science but every one like this seems to be taken as an excuse for the uninformed to come up with todays hair brained theory to scare the masses. I wonder if we can link this to terrorism in some way.

    • by tjstork (137384)

      If only mother nature were cooperative... Well, before Newton discovered gravity, you could still get killed by a falling rock.

      Sadly, just because we don't know have a cause for why less sunspots might cool the planet doesn't categorically rule it out. The only intellectual discipline that can have the rigor of a mathematical proof, is well, mathematical proofs, and after that, the universe is decidedly less cooperative. All you can really say is, based on what we know, sunspots probably shouldn't be chan

  • There are cooling trends, Vedic descriptions of the "Divine Day" and Easter calculations. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=%2295+year+cycle%22&btnG=Search [google.com] Ur Primitivz want theyr kalenderz back.
  • by Uthic (931553)
    Read that as "The Sun has First Topless..", thought The Sun here in Toronto finally decided to spice up the Sunshine Girl.
  • So,

    I know sun spots are a different temp than the sun overall - has this had an effect on the energy output of the sun?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:25AM (#24843913)

    ...my boyfriend panics.

  • Don't be so hasty... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SageMusings (463344) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:53PM (#24845687) Journal

    Until Netcraft confirms this, it hasn't happened.

  • August numbers in (Score:3, Informative)

    by ekihn (1356039) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:04PM (#24845877)
    All, Interesting story but the official numbers are in and there were two days with spots for August (21,22). You can follow all the action at our http://spidr.ngdc.noaa.gov/ [noaa.gov] website which has SSN back to 1610 (among other indices). No doubt this cycle is unusual in its delayed start though. Regards, Eric

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