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Sign Up for Free Livestreams from Space Telescopes Just in Time for the Solar Eclipse

Don’t have plans to watch the upcoming solar eclipse in person? As long as you have an internet connection, you’ll be able to watch it live from home by signing up for the celestial event streaming service Slooh.

As The Verge reports, Slooh provides livestreams of full moons, comets, and even exploding galaxies, observed through its seven telescopes on the Canary Islands and three more in Chile, for what’s normally a monthly membership fee of $4.95. It also periodically provides free streams of celestial events like meteor showers, planets in opposition, and the occasional super beaver moon.

But starting August 7, Slooh will waive the cost of its basic services. All you have to do is register with the website. Registration includes up to 20 hours a day of prime space views. In the coming weeks viewers will be able to witness the Perseids meteor shower, Cassini’s descent into Saturn, and of course the North American solar eclipse on August 21.

Members willing to pay $4.95 a month to become a Slooh Apprentice will have the power to reserve short periods of time on its telescopes five times a month and point them at different parts of the sky. There's also the Slooh Astronomer package at $24.95 a month which includes unlimited telescope reservations. But whether you're an Apprentice, an Astronomer, or just a casual stargazer, the service is an affordable replacement for a high-powered telescope of your own.

[h/t The Verge]

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Space
Look Up! The Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

October is always a great month for skywatching. If you missed the Draconids, the first meteor shower of the month, don't despair: the Orionids peak this weekend. It should be an especially stunning show this year, as the Moon will offer virtually no interference. If you've ever wanted to get into skywatching, this is your chance.

The Orionids is the second of two meteor showers caused by the debris field left by the comet Halley. (The other is the Eta Aquarids, which appear in May.) The showers are named for the constellation Orion, from which they seem to originate.

All the stars are lining up (so to speak) for this show. First, it's on the weekend, which means you can stay up late without feeling the burn at work the next day. Tonight, October 20, you'll be able to spot many meteors, and the shower peaks just after midnight tomorrow, October 21, leading into Sunday morning. Make a late-night picnic of the occasion, because it takes about an hour for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine, lay out and take in the open skies, and let nature do the rest.

Second, the Moon, which was new only yesterday, is but a sliver in the evening sky, lacking the wattage to wash out the sky or conceal the faintest of meteors. If your skies are clear and light pollution low, this year you should be able to catch about 20 meteors an hour, which isn't a bad way to spend a date night.

If clouds interfere with your Orionids experience, don't fret. There will be two more meteor showers in November and the greatest of them all in December: the Geminids.

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Land Cover CCI, ESA
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Afternoon Map
European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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