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By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Earth is being hit with solar flares today, but experts say the danger isn’t very high.

On a scale of one to ten, these flares shooting off a group of sunspots are around a two.  Nothing to panic about.

Franklin Institute chief astronomer Derrick Pitts says we caught a break because the flares are not pointed directly toward our planet.

“Even though it’s not pointed toward Earth,” he adds, “we still get some of the effects.  And in this case, there’s been some disturbance of radio transmissions over Europe so far.”

The flares could also cause power surges in transmission lines and interfere with satellite communications, including GPS, “because the electromagnetic particle bombardment from these really big eruptions can actually fry the electronics in the satellites,” according to Pitts, unless the satellite’s electronics are not facing the eruptions or they have built-in protection systems.

Pitts says the flares will set off a Northern Lights show that can be seen as far south as upstate New York.


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