July 10, 2012 10:23 pm

Just hanging out, looking up at the stars… on my computer!

Sunday night I was privileged to attend a Google+ Hangout on Air for the Virtual Star Party hosted by Fraser Cain, who started the website UniverseToday.com and hosts Astronomy Cast along with Dr. Pamela L. Gay. In spite of technical glitches, cloud cover and rainouts, I stil
l got to see M51, the Ring Nebula, the Pillars of Creation and more… all live, pumped through Google+ via the telescopes of a group of amateur astronomers.

Google+ Hangouts on Air are still new, and people are still getting the hang of them. We’re even planning on doing a few in the future with a Google+ guru named Shiraz who is building an Astronomy community on Google+.

Even with the technical glitches, though, the experience felt real and alive, like hanging out at night in a field filled with stargazers, walking from telescope to telescope as each astronomer competed for attention, saying, “Ooh! Look what I found…”

Those technical glitches got me thinking about some of the recent technical issues we’ve had on our site. Problems with the iTunes feed, with DNS and redirects, with server changeovers, with changing syndication partners for the show, and more.

Through it all you, our fans, have taken it in stride. In many instances, the first time we knew there was a problem was when you told us, which makes sense, because there are more of you than of us (and none of us have a Zune, Brian, Lisa and Lin!) But clearly, there’s strength in numbers.

By the way, even if you missed the Virtual Star Party Hangout, you can watch the video on YouTube. The Ring Nebula alone is worth the price of admission. (It’s in true color and happens around the 1-hour mark of the video.)

Tomorrow night Neil deGrasse Tyson and StarTalk is live at The Bell House in Brooklyn. See some of you there! (It’s also Manhattanhenge, so if you can’t be at the Bell House at 8:24 PM, at least there’s an astronomy event to keep you busy!)

That’s it for now.

Keep Looking Up!

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