This morning was the Google I/O 2012 meeting, celebrating the first anniversary of Google unveiling Google+. At the meeting, keynote speaker Vic Gondotra talked about Google+ Hangouts -- live video chats that can have several people broadcasting, and an unlimited audience. And look what they featured for the talk: the Virtual Star Party, held every week by my friend and Universe Today founder Fraser Cain!
Wow. You can see several regulars there too, including astronomers Pamela Gay, Gary Gonella and Mike Phillips. I didn't happen to be in that star party that night, but I participate when I can.
The star party was Fraser's idea a while back, and when he came to me with it I was initially skeptical -- I've never been much of an early adopter -- but Fraser and I have a rule: "Trust Fraser". And of course he was right. We did one of these for the Venus Transit and 7000 people joined us to watch live. Fraser has wrangled astronomers from across the globe to hook up webcams to their telescopes and participate in this. We've had sessions featuring the Moon, Saturn, nebulae, galaxies, clusters... all live, and piped right into your computer. And it's not all one way, either, since we encourage our audience to ask questions and suggest targets. And of course there's also the Weekly Space Roundup, too, where space and astronomy journalists do a live hangout and talk about recent stories. That was all Fraser's idea, too.
I am incredibly proud of Fraser for doing this, and for Pamela and all the others who made this happen.
If you want to join in, just circle Fraser Cain on Google+. If you're not signed up, it's quick and easy. And don't listen to the naysayers; G+ is way better than Facebook. I find the conversations there to be stimulating and fun, and of course the Hangouts are a blast. In fact, it's been a while since I've done a Q&BA Hangout. Maybe I'll fix that this weekend.
Man. It's really true: We live in the future.