Science & Astronomy
6. February 2013

I had already written an article in German about a Collection of Google+ Hangouts on science and astronomy in October, which I updated only a few weeks ago. Since Google activated the hangouts in Germany last August, finally allowing us to watch live instead of only the recordings, much has happened especially in the fields of science and astronomy. This article is a collection of the most interesting hangouts and was originally meant as an introduction for German-language readers, but since all of the hangouts are in English anyway, it is only fair to post an English version. Have a look, there is much to discover!

Astronomy Cast has already existed since September 2006 as an audio podcast, but Fraser Cain of Universe Today and Pamela L. Gay from the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville had discovered the possibility of group videochats using the hangout function of Google+ in December 2011 and since then have broadcast the recording of their podcast as a live hangout. First the half-hour podcast is recorded and then in another 30 minutes or so audience questions are answered, which can be asked in the comment sections on Google+, Youtube or even Twitter. The subject area is very wide and not limited to pure Astronomy, even after over 275 episodes Astronomy Cast is still interesting, educational and always entertaining. This podcast is not a dry scienctific lecture, but a certain base knowledge is of course required. All episodes of Astronomy Cast are archived on the Podcast Website. The archival recordings of the hangouts, which are often several episode ahead of the podcasts, can be watched in the Youtube-Channel of Universe Today.
» Where: +AstronomyCast, +Fraser Cain, +Pamela Gay, +Universe Today
» When: Mondays at 21:00 CET / 19:00 UTC

The Virtual Star Party had its beginnings in January 2012 with an idea of Fraser Cain to hook up a telescope into a hangout. After a second test hangout the Virtual Star Party was born and became a regular feature, which depending on the weather and the participants, is taking place nearly every week now. Invited are not only astronomers from the USA, but often from the whole world, who are streaming their telescopes directly into the hangout and provide fascinating images of the moon, the planets and even of galaxies, nebulas and other objects – mixed with extensive comments and a lively and often funny conversation. This is not only interesting for amateur astronomers, but for everybody who is interested in astronomy. Because of the time difference it is not easy to watch these hangouts live from Europe, unless you stay up very late or get up very early – but the recordings of the hangouts are of course available in the Youtube channel of Universe Today and in the Virtual Star Party Archive of CosmoQuest.
» Where: +Virtual Star Party, +Universe Today, CosmoQuest Hangouts
» When: Sunday/Monday, depending on the seasons, in winter 03:00 CET / 02:00 UTC

The Weekly Space Hangout by CosmoQuest and Universe Today is a discussion by space, astronomy and science journalists who report about the current news in their fields. The hangouts are mostly being hosted by Frasier Cain and/or Pamela Gay, regular guests are the contributors of Universe Today and also Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society, Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy and many others. The hangouts are archived in the Youtube channel of Universe Today and in the Weekly Space Hangout Archive of CosmoQuest. The hangout had been on hold during summer 2012 because of time constraints, but is back on track since the end of January 2013.
» Where: +CosmoQuest, +Universe Today, CosmoQuest Hangouts
» When: Fridays at 19:00 CET / 17:00 UTC

Learning Space is a new series of hangouts, in which the education initiatives of CosmoQuest in science, astronomy and space research are presented. Pamela Gay, Nicole Gugliucci, Georgia Bracey and others from the CosmoQuest-Team tell about their programs and demonstrate their methods and ideas how education in the STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) fields can be improved. This is of course mainly relevant for other american educators, but for anyone with an interest in science and astronomy the hangouts are still worth watching because of the great engagement of CosmoQuest. The first hangout, which was unfortunately cut short by a technical problem, is archived in Nicole Gugliucci’s Youtube channel and the Astrosphere Vids Channel.
» Where: +CosmoQuest, CosmoQuest Hangouts
» When: Wednesday/Thursday 01:00 CET / 23:00 UTC

The Planetary Society Hangout has superceded the Weekly Science Hour. Since the landing of the Curiosity rover Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society has been reporting bi-weekly about the current events on Mars and often has guests from the rover team on the show. In alternate weeks the hangout is dedicated to other news about space exploration from the perspective of the Planetary Society and is sometimes hosted by Emily’s colleague Casey Dreier. The hangouts are archived in the Planetary Society’s Youtube channel. [Update Autumn 2013: The hangout has been on hiatus since the end of July and it’s not clear if it will return.]
» Where: +Planetary Society
» When: Thursdays 21:00 CET / 19:00 UTC

The Cosmic Ray Show by astronomer Ray Sanders is a talkshow in a hangout format about space, astronomy and everything related. In a very entertaining and funny way Ray Sanders together with his guests – often people from CosmoQuest and Universe Today – talks about news in space exploration and astronomy. The show is archived in Ray Sanders’ Youtube channel and on the webseite of the Cosmic Ray Show.
» Where: +The Cosmic Ray Show,
» When: monthly, see announcements on the websites

All these hangouts and some other events are listed in the CosmoQuest Calendar, which can be imported into a private Google calendar to show the dates and times in the local time zones.

These regularly happening hangouts should be worthwhile for all those who are interested in science and astronomy. Apart from a healthy dose of curiosity and a solid basic knowledge no special requirements are necessary to follow the hangouts, certainly no science degrees are really needed. One thing is, however, absolutely necessary: very good English skills. Events like these in German language are virtually nonexistent, especially in German television, but if you want to catch up with current news in astronomy, space exploration and science generally, these hangouts and their related websites are the right place.

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