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Take a virtual space voyage

Phil Walter / Getty Images
The moon covers up part of the sun's disk in the skies over Auckland,

New Zealand, on Thursday. Click on the image for a larger view.

After weeks of delay, the crew members of the shuttle Atlantis are finally ready for their voyage to the international space station this week - a trip primarily aimed at giving science a big orbital boost. Thanks to the Internet, you can go on your own virtual voyages across the universe from the comfort of your own computer. Here's a selection of online destinations:

Relive this week's solar eclipse: All but a thin ring of the sun's disk was blotted out on Wednesday (or Thursday, depending on your time zone) over a thin stretch of Antarctica. Meanwhile, Australians and New Zealanders caught a partial solar eclipse. The live coverage of the eclipse was pretty sparse, but you can review the highlights reel over at Among the sun-watchers were Graham Palmer and Jonathan Harris in New Zealand. Next up: Feb. 20's total lunar eclipse and Aug. 1's total solar eclipse. For highlights from past eclipses, check out the offerings in our space gallery.

Ride along on our 'Space Shots': We've just come out with our latest semimonthly slide show of great images from outer space, and there are some stunners - ranging from dramatic views of Earth from orbit, to the latest "happy face" on Mars, to glittering pictures of faraway galaxies. If you want some new wallpaper for your computer monitor, you can click into larger versions of the happy face as well as the "Eye on Mars" from the HiRISE Web site, the galaxy M51, the Fox Fur Nebula and much more. Let me know what you're looking for in the comments section and I may be able to slip you a link.

Travel to Saturn with CASSIE: Among the most popular items in the "Space Shots" slide show are pictures of Saturn and its moons, sent back by the Cassini orbiter. There are cool pictures galore from the imaging team's Web site as well as from NASA. Now the space agency has added a new way to participate in the Cassini mission: NASA is offering what it calls the Cassini at Saturn Interactive Explorer, or CASSIE for short. After downloading the free plug-in, you can get an up-to-the-second simulation of what Cassini is seeing. You can also check a graphical overview of Cassini's mission plan, plus quick facts on Saturn's major moons.

Visit the Carnival of Space: Where on earth can you get the outer-space angle on subjects ranging from the 50th anniversary of the Space Age to Willie Nelson and Batman? Dip into this week's Carnival of Space to broaden your final-frontier reading list. These online "carnivals" help to highlight unexpected corners of the blogosphere. This week marks the 40th weekly show - and the latest host, Orbiting Frog's Robert Simpson, says that means the Carnival of Space is hitting "the HTML equivalent of a midlife crisis." Please visit the carnival and be supportive.