Google+ Documentary about the Virtual Star Parties

As you probably know, we’ve been holding Virtual Star Parties every Sunday night, where we pull together live feeds from multiple telescopes around the world and broadcast them into a live Google+ hangout. We’ve done dozens of them now, showcasing the Moon, many of the planets, and so many deep sky objects. The response of this has been overwhelming, helping people without telescopes or terrible weather a chance to see the night sky from the comfort of their home.

We’ve held special events, broadcasting the recent solar eclipse and transit of Venus right into a Google+ Hangout. During the 6-hour marathon transit of Venus, we had almost 7,000 people joining us live.

What you didn’t know was that Google was secretly creating a documentary featuring the Virtual Star Party team. A camera crew from Google flew out to North Carolina to film +Mike Phillips, to Edwardsville to meet with +Dr. Pamela Gay, here to capture me and the family on Vancouver Island and then down to Los Angeles to meet with +Gary Gonella.

The final version of this documentary was released at the big Google I/O keynote address in San Francisco on June 27, 2012. And seriously, they did an amazing job. A huge thanks to everyone at Google+ for providing this platform to give us this ability and thanks to +Jessica Brillhart and +Owen Katz for dedicating so much time to producing this documentary. If you still think Google+ is a ghost town, I hope this will help you realize it’s one of the most vibrant social networks happening on the internet right now.

We hold these Virtual Star Parties every Sunday night, once it gets dark on the West Coast of North America (9pm Pacific in the summer). If want to watch it live, just circle +Fraser Cain on Google+, or circle the +Virtual Star Party page. Then you’ll see the hangout when it happens in the stream.

8 Replies to “Google+ Documentary about the Virtual Star Parties”

  1. WAY double extra groovy cool you guys! Thanks for all the effort.. I know it must be difficult to co-ordinate these events… so I want you to know that it is appreciated! Thanks to all of you.

    Clear skies!

  2. This is awesome! Just awesome! keep up the good work, I was and will be there for the next virtual star party!

  3. I’ve posted something similar on the Bad Astronomy blog last night and just saw that there’s an article here as well.

    I’m the lone guy who tried to watch the Venus transit hangout a while ago and discovered that Youtube livestreams were completely blocked here in Germany. But first of all, it’s an absolutely wonderful and awe-inspiring video. Yay for technology, science and clever people! But there’s a huge downside…

    If you look on a map of Europe, there’s a giant black hole in the middle, where the reception of livestreams from Youtube is impossible. It’s Germany! Our silly government wants to fine everybody €500.000 who makes a public television broadcast without a license, and they think Youtube livestreams are a tv-broadcast! So we’re the ONLY country in the world in which nobody is allowed to see a Youtube livestream. Google would need to apply for a broadcast license (“Rundfunklizenz”), something which they unfortunately haven’t done.

    I know this isn’t the fault of anybody here, quite the contrary – but it’s half the fault of our government and half the fault of Google. But lots of Youtube is blocked here for silly rights reasons anyway and nobody seems to have noticed that the livestreams are not only used for commecial broadcasts, but also for private and educational things. And once again science and education gets kicked out.

    Am I really the only German reader of Bad Astronomy, Universe Today & Co who has complained about this? What can I do about it? Is Google, the main company in the USA, even aware that one of their flagship products can’t be used in a big country right in the middle of Europe? Maybe the decision to block livestreams in Germany was only made by our local Google. I know from some of last year’s press releases that somebody from Google must have talked to our Government about it, but I have no idea what really happened.

    There must be some way to change this situation…

  4. Really cool, great to see google acknowledge the amazing stuff you’re doing with their software.

Comments are closed.