Google+ tip: Space hangouts

While I’ve been on Google+ for quite some time, I just recently became active and started using it daily. Different from similar social networks such as Facebook, Google+ focuses more on the interests that its users share, and encourages to form circles of friends based on what you have in common – playing football, watching Star Trek, religious bent, work, et cetera.

Google+ also has some interesting features that make it stand out. One of these – a brilliant idea I can’t believe no-one else thought of – is hangouts. A hangout is basically a video chat that whoever you invite can join. Or, more fun, just have it open so that anyone of your friends can jump in and chat with you. It’s not limited for  two either, but any number of users can come together in a hangout.

This has spawned a number of specialised hangouts, including someone of my friends planning a whiskey tasting party through a Google+ hangout. The most exciting I have found so far is the Space Hangouts that occur every Thursday at 18:00 UTC time (10 AM PST), in which a bunch of astronomers come together and discuss recent astronomy news. The whole discussion is streamed on Google+ for anyone to view, and they have a question-and-answer segment in which viewers can comment with their questions. The hangout is recorded and later released on YouTube. It’s an exciting idea that works really well, with participation by among others Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay of the excellent Astronomy Cast (and Cain from the Universe Today blog), and Phil Plait from the Bad Astronomy blog as well as author of ”Bad Astronomy” and ”Death from the Skies!”.

Check Fraser Cains postings at around 18:00 UTC next Thursday for the next show, or watch the most recent one on YouTube now.

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