Even an hour isn't long enough to cover the universe, as evidenced by this Google+ Hangout organized by Universe Today's Fraser Cain. The gang included Cain as well as his UT colleagues Nancy Atkinson and Jon Voisey, Bad Astronomy's Philip Plait, Discovery News' Ian O'Neill and Nicole Gugliucci, Astronomy Cast's Pamela Gay, BAUT Forum's Jay Cross and yours truly. We talked about NASA's Grail mission to the moon, the impending fall of Russia's Phobos-Grunt probe and the Quadrantid meteor shower — but the biggest theme was the weirdness over 2012, the Mayan calendar and tales of psychic travel to Mars. This year may be a peak time for pseudoscientific craziness, but it's also a "teachable moment" for astronomy. Does it do more harm than good to talk about doomsday pronouncements and UFO claims? When is the right time to do a reality check? Watch the YouTube vidcast for more on all these subjects, and feel free to weigh in with your comments below.
More about the round table's topics:
- NASA's twin moon probes enter lunar orbit (starting at 7:10)
- Phobos-Grunt heading for a fiery fall (starting at 15:37)
- Quadrantid meteor shower wows skywatchers (22:46)
- Is 2012 hype heating up or cooling down? (28:55)
- Four newfound worlds kick off 2012's planet quest (49:06)
- Did you hear the one about Obama going to Mars? (51:48)
- Questions from the audience (1:02:20)
Check out our previous experimental Hangout on the Air, which focused on the planet quest.
Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.