In solar cycle news: Important new sunspot appears, starts blasting energy
Cycle 24 began a couple of Fridays ago. (Darn, I missed it.) ESA's (English) press release is here, but Phil Plait explains it without hurting my American English astrophysics editing eyes:
The Sun kick starts its cycle once again
"This image (from SOHO) shows the newest spot to blemish the Sun. We can tell it’s part of the new cycle because of the Sun’s magnetic field: sunspots reverse their (magnetic north and south) polarity every cycle, and this spot shows that reversal. So welcome the first spot for Cycle 24!"
Get ready for solar max in about 2011. It's predicted to be a big one.
Remember: bicyclists may tend to be weather nerds, but if you can impress your friends and colleagues with your (comparatively) vast knowledge of space weather then you will surely be the nerdiest weather nerd of all.