Space Station Astronauts Hangout with Earthlings (and Universe Today!)

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield uses a camera to photograph the topography of a point on Earth from a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

It’s not often that people on Earth get to hangout with astronauts in space, but today NASA held the first-ever Google Plus Hangout from the International Space Station. It was a live event, and if you aren’t familiar yet with G+ Hangouts (you really should be by now!) they allow people to chat face-to-face while thousands more can tune in to watch the conversation live on Google+ or YouTube. NASA took questions live from Twitter and G+, but they also took questions submitted previously via You Tube, and we were proud to see that Fraser’s question that he submitted via You Tube was included in the Hangout! You can see the question and astronaut Chris Hadfield’s reply at about 42:00 in the video above.

Fraser asked how being on the ISS and the special conditions it has (microgravity, harsh exposures, distant objects, weird lighting ) affect photography — and as you know we feature A LOT of ISS photography here on UT.

Hadfield said photography from orbit is quite complex, but the “weird” part about it is that space is so incredibly black and dark. The difficulty is having the dark background of space against the brightness of Earth and trying to balanace that. The advantage is being able to use the really big lenses and have them be weightless — no tripod needed!.

“The best part is,” Hadfield added, “even though we are not photographers by trade, we have really good professional photographers as trainers and a vantage point that is absolutely unparallelled.”

What Does Conan O’Brien Think About Space Exploration?

Conan says "I'm a big fan of science and technology." (Air quotes his.)

I wanted to know, so I decided to ask him. And thanks to “Team Coco” and Google Plus, I was able to — last night at 9:30 p.m. Central/7:30 p.m. Pacific, to be exact.

On Monday afternoon, Team Coco — that is, the Google Plus page for comedian and late-night TV host Conan O’Brien — posted a video contest where five lucky “Plussers” would be able to participate in Conan’s first-ever live Google Hangout. All you needed to do was record and post a video question on your Google Plus page, and tag #AskConan on the post.

I figured I’d give it a shot, and recorded a quick webcam video wherein I asked Mr. O’Brian what his feelings were on the future of space exploration. Because, honestly, that’s what we all want to know.

The next morning I had a response from Team Coco… they liked the video and wanted me on the Hangout. So I got to participate, and ask Conan himself — er, myself — um… I got to ask Conan himself, myself!

There were five of us all together on the Hangout, along with Aaron, the moderator, and of course the comedic maestro, Conan O’Brien. After some time prepping to make sure everyone’s lighting and sound were ok and the internet connections were reliable, and basically chatting among ourselves and getting to know each other, we finally went live on Google. The result is above, for better or worse… hey, it was live! Enjoy.


As far as the answer to the question goes, you can find that around the 16-minute mark. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that a late-night TV host has certain…priorities…to keep in mind, and above all, Conan is ultimately a businessman.

A funny, funny businessman with an endless supply of gag props.

So check out the video, follow Team Coco on Google Plus and, if you’re a fan of Hangouts be sure to catch Universe Today’s own Space Hangout every Thursday (which I am also a participant in) on our fearless editor Fraser Cain’s feed here.

And next time you see a video contest in your Plus feed, enter it! You never know who you’ll end up hanging out with.