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Sun Getting Ready To Flip Its Magnetic Field; Earthlings Affected?

By John Ostapkovich

MILKY WAY GALAXY (CBS) -- The bright light of our solar system is about to go through a major change, but here on Earth we'll probably hardly notice.

Don't expect to hear anything like "It's the end of the world, my friends,..." (from the science-drivel movie 2012) even though the Sun's magnetic field will reverse shortly.

Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, says this a regular, recurring event.

"We're just about reaching the peak of the sunspot cycle, what's called solar maximum," Pitts explains.  "The magnetic field of the Sun changes every 11 years."

Pitts says there may be some brighter Northern Lights, or electrical troubles on satellites, due more to the effects of the sunspots than the magnetic field change.

He says instruments can measure the magnetic field directly, and he reminds those interested in seeing sunspots that on cloudless days you can actually get a safe telescopic look at the sun from the Franklin Institute.

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