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Sci-Tech

Natural wonder and human woe in 2014's best satellite shots

You are being watched. From music festivals to political conflict, check out some of the most spectacular and startling satellite images of Earth captured in 2014.

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Satellites caught an entire world of fun and fear in 2014. In this shot, Iraqis flee the advance of militants on a winding mountain road. DigitalGlobe

Each year, our ability to watch our own world from space becomes a little more remarkable (and, some would argue, a bit more creepy). Case in point, this year's launch of the DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 commercial satellite.

Worldview-3 is the first commercial satellite capable of 30-centimeter imagery, which means each square pixel in an image captures one square foot of space on the ground. While it might not seem like it, that's a big leap from the 50-centimeter standard that was in place in 2013.

It's such a big leap, in fact, that government regulations prevent DigitalGlobe from sharing those images with us until a waiting period ends on February 15, 2015. Until then, the best we can do is resampled 40-centimeter images, which also offer noticeable increases in clarity.

DigitalGlobe sent over a sampling of its best shots from 2014, including some of the new beauties from Worldview-3. They show a world at war, at work, and at play, upon a planet that is often restless but is far more often just doing its ancient habit of pristine posing.

Check out our favorite shots in the slideshow below. You can also vote for your favorite on DigitalGlobe's Facebook page.