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Slooh Explore Space Live Telescope Card

Slooh Explore Space Live Telescope Card

Fall 2006 Online Software
Ages: 8 - 14 yrs.
Price: $10.00
Platform: Windows/MAC
At 4:10 p.m. EST I logged onto the online telescope at, clicked “current mission” on the launch-pad page and in seconds my computer screen was transformed into a live telescopic view of the moon. Not an image of the moon but the actual moon as it revealed its half-glowing, cratered, lunar self at that very moment in the skies above the Canary Islands off the northwestern coast of Africa.

That's the location of the Observatorio de Teide and the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, two observatories that combine as one of the largest assemblages of telescopes in the world. And thanks to the partnership of and Astronomy Magazine which launched the Slooh site, the deep-space heavens those powerful professional telescopes focus on are now available to you. So never mind that backyard telescope that never worked all that well, and forget about the city lights and ozone haze that diminish the spectacle in the sky above. Now, any time you please, you can access the distant galaxies, planets and amazing celestial events that the pros are aiming their 'scopes at—right at your home computer.

Note: The site does offer forums and chat rooms for stargazers. These features are open only to current subscribers who are logged on to the site. It is monitored with emphasis that all conversation is safe for children and respectful of all users. Users’ personal information, other than a chat-room moniker, is shielded from other users. Parents’ Choice advises: no matter what the guards and restrictions in place, pre-teens and even teens using any chat room on the Internet should have parental supervision.

The inexpensive fee-based membership at the Slooh site (named for how a telescope “slews” from one object to the next) offers the public a wealth of astronomical information and first-hand opportunities. The live space objects that stream onto your computer screen are the highlight—usually something new appears about every 5 to 10 minutes. But members worldwide, from 60 countries, have found other features compelling too. From the launch-pad page, you can tweak the image for close-ups or celestial views, click on expert commentary about the mission object, capture and save photos of the object, get alerts to missions almost underway, and check out member-initiated missions—past, current and upcoming.

Slooh editors time the viewing opps to target the most timely, brightest and popular outer-space objects and events and members also can initiate missions for exploring other galaxies, star clusters, planets—whatever's happening out there. Just 15 minutes after viewing the moon's surface, the mission switched to the spiral galaxy M63 in the constellation Canes Venatici some 37 million light years away—just a soft streak of stardom across the black universe. But so remarkable.

This $10 Explore Space Live member card is a great deal for anyone who likes to look up at the nighttime skies. It buys 50 minutes of live access. Slooh also offers other memberships: The Observer membership costs $4.95 for 10 live missions, the Explorer, $29.95 for 100 missions, and the Commander, $99.94 for unlimited missions. Not convinced? The trial membership may do the trick.

Don Oldenburg   ©2006 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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