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Watch the Earth Live From Space, Music Not Included

Stop watching the clock tick backwards this Friday afternoon and start watching the Earth live and in HD from outerspace. The International Space Station (ISS) recently started streaming video as it races around the planet, allowing everyone a chance to enjoy the view previously only accessible to astronauts.


Live streaming video by Ustream

The view of Earth from space has captivated astronauts since the first space flight in 1961. Astronauts have captured nearly 1.8 million images of the Earth since then, all of which are hosted by NASA. Nearly a quarter of those images have been taken from the space station, which has been in orbit since 1998. Clearly these images strike a chord in those of us stuck on the ground; according to NASA,  those images have been downloaded nearly 824 million times.

To commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the first American in space, on Monday NASA released a photo taken by Alan Shepard on his 15-minute flight on May 5, 1961. The grainy view shows the Earth from 116 miles up, clouds lazily tracking over the ocean.

For a more modern view of the planet, the crew on the ISS recently set up a webcam that let's you enjoy the view from 230 miles above the Earth's surface 24 hours a day. The crew recently installed several cameras with their lenses trained toward us, transmitting live views as the space station passes over the Earth at 18,000 mph. NASA also has a real-time map of the space station's path so if you time it just right, you can wave to the cameras if you'd like. And if you're not seeing anything in the live stream above, don't worry, everything's fine up there. It just means the ISS is on the dark side of the earth.

The only thing missing is music. Slate's Phil Plait recommends full-screen viewing with Dvorak's Ninth Symphony. We're partial to Icelandic rockers Sigur Ros, but either way it seems like a good recommendation to wrap up your Friday or bookmark it for the next time you need a reminder of how amazing our planet is.

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