Something new under the starsFebruary 13, 2012
Virtual star parties.
Google+ allows multiple video streams at once. The number of amateur astronomers across the continent with video cameras is probably in the low thousands. Get several astronomers steaming live video of celestial objects, a few knowledgeable people answering questions, and a few dozen to a few hundred enthusiasts following along, and you’ve got a virtual star party.
It’s not my idea, and I’m not speaking hypothetically. This is happening, right now (well, maybe not right at this minute, but in the larger present). Fraser Cain, who runs Universe Today, seems to be the nucleating center. There have been several virtual star parties to date, with pro astronomers Phil Platt (Bad Astronomy) and Pamela Gaye (Star Stryder) participating and answering people’s questions. If you’d like to get in on it, join Google+ and add Fraser Cain to one of your circles. You’ll get updates when virtual star parties are coming up. Apparently there is no set schedule, as this is still a new thing and sort of experimental, but from what I hear the response has been great and there will be more.
I say “from what I hear” because I haven’t been to one of these shindigs. I heard about them from a fellow PVAA member, and I’m just passing the word along. You can tell from my posting rate these past few months how much time I have. (And yes, the irony of me complaining about too little time, given this blog’s subtitle, is not lost on me.)