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Web Sites To Show Live Images of Total Eclipse

On Thursday morning, providing you had the foresight a decade or so ago to make hotel and airline reservations, you could be reclining on a beach somewhere in the southern Caribbean, basking in the shadow of the moon during a total solar eclipse. If not, you can always experience the event from your desk at work. Thanks to a joint expedition by representatives from San Francisco's Exploratorium, Discovery Online and NASA, cameras positioned all along the 167-mile-wide path of totality will feed live images to no fewer than a dozen separate Web sites around the world. Viewers in the path of totality, which stretches from the western Pacific to the central Atlantic, will experience near darkness for several minutes. But thanks to the number of cameras positioned along that path, live images of totality will be available for as long as 30 minutes. The Webcast will be available over the Internet at the Exploratorium Web site, which can be found at www.exploratorium.com, and locally at www.excelsoft.com/eclipse. A separate Webcast will be available from www.solar-eclipse.org, the Japanese site that broadcast images of a total eclipse that occurred last year in Siberia. That Webcast was the first of its kind and attracted more than 1.7 million visitors. The eclipse will begin at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Standard time Thursday and will last until just after 11:30 a.m. Totality on the southern tip of Aruba will last approximately five minutes. The Exploratorium's "Stories From the Path of Totality" is the third in a continuing series of Exploratorium Webcasts. PC and UNIX users running 3.0 or newer versions of Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator can receive a GTS Java audio feed without having to install any special plug-ins. Macintosh users will be able to use RealAudio to hear the Webcast. On Wednesday evening, the Exploratorium will Webcast a special pre-eclipse program that will include dispatches from a Discovery journalist reporting live from Aruba. If you missed this one and find that the Web experience can't quite compare to the real thing, there still may be a few rooms left along the path of the next total eclipse, which will occur in August 1999. That event will be seen all across Europe, all the way from Paris to Bucharest. AOL Access Case Wrapped Up A Chicago judge has given the green light in a class-action lawsuit filed last year by irate America Online subscribers. The suit was filed on behalf of millions of AOL subscribers who had trouble connecting with the online service after the company began offering a flat monthly fee rather than billing subscribers by the hour. Any settlement will be paid to subscribers via refunds in accordance with which plan they used to access AOL and how much time they spent online. The decision comes despite claims by AOL lawyers that damages are almost impossible to prove, especially since typical usage for most customers actually doubled after the rate change.

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