WSH CREW COMMUNITY
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WSH Crew Auctions are coming!
19. May 2017

WSH CREW AUCTIONS
A while ago, we mentioned that we here at the Crew had a few things up our sleeves… for example, as many of you know, we just finished up a very cool giveaway of the new book “Exoplanets” to two of our viewers (congratulations again to Raza Siddiqui and Vicki Knoer!)

Well, it’s time to announce the NEXT one of our awesome projects – at least WE think it is pretty awesome…

To remind everyone, CosmoQuest/Astronomy Cast is one of our sister organizations, and they rely on the financial generosity of viewers who are able to help out in any way. As a way to help supplement viewer donations, give our members/viewers a chance to get some swag, and to hopefully have a little fun along the way, the WSH Crew is pleased to announce that in the next few days we will be launching WSH Crew Auctions. Initially we will be offering some CQX swag (and maybe one or two other non-swag items) for folks to bid on with ALL winning bids/proceeds going directly to CosmoQuest via their Patreon Portal via PayPal.

For the time being, the intent is for the auctions to be open to bidders world-wide, and to charge no shipping fees either. However, depending how things go and what the specific item/destination is, we may modify this policy on an item-by-item basis – changes will be mentioned in each auction should this be necessary.

For now, we are also limiting selling to one account to simplify matters on all levels. If anyone wants to donate an item, let us know and we will figure out the semantics of how to do so.

Finally – this is NOT going to be a publicly accessible system. Bidders MUST be either a member of the WSH Crew Google+ community or a Slack member. This is non-negotiable. We are doing this completely on a volunteer basis and for a bit of community fun while hopefully helping out CosmoQuest.

I hope everyone is as excited about this as we are. We hope to be live with our first auction early next week. For now, if you have any questions, just ask away.

Going forward here, we will be announcing the start of each new auction – and auction winners – over in the #swag Slack channel, so if you are interested, be sure to subscribe to it!

The WSH Crew goes Slack
11. May 2017

In the last couple of months, we have been trying out a new way of communication behind the scenes of the WSH Crew with Slack, a very powerful messaging and collaboration tool in the style of an IRC chat. Because a moderated Slack channel will be shown on screen in the Weekly Space Hangout and Astronomy Cast from now on, we would now like to invite all community members to the WSH Slack.

Joining the Slack is easy! Just write an email to slack@wsh-crew.net to receive an invitation with all further details. We will vet each applicant to avoid spammers and trolls and for this reason we would like to ask everyone to include the Google+ profile you have joined the community with in your request. Once you have joined, you will have access to the WSH Slack, which not only has the live chat channels for the WSH and Astronomy Cast, but also a general area, a guest suggestion corner, an off-topic channel just for chatting and we may even create more channels as we go along. The same house rules as in the community also apply in the Slack chat. 

The WSH Slack is not meant to replace our Google+ Community – it is simply an alternate, faster way to communicate with each other and to support the hangouts and projects the WSH Crew is affiliated with. So don’t worry, we will not close down our primary home and will continue to post all the space news, information about the hangouts and more in the Google+ Community!

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us in the community or via email.

Book Giveaway – Our Cosmic Story
5. May 2017

On Friday, May 5, 2017, the WSH again welcomes Mathew Anderson, author of Our Cosmic Story, to the show. You may recall that Mathew joined us last fall just prior to the release of Our Cosmic Story and he was kind enough to offer our viewers free electronic copies just for the asking. Since then, Mathew has expanded the last chapter of his book to include additional information about SETI, and with the recent exoplanet discoveries, many of the other chapters are of even greater relevance.

We are pleased to announce that, as part of Mathew’s return visit, for a limited time, Is Anybody Out There?: An Expanded Excerpt from Our Cosmic Story is available for free – simply visit its Amazon Site to get your copy.

For those viewers who would like a copy of the complete book, Mathew is again kindly offering our viewers a free, updated electronic copy of it. Between now and Noon EST on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, send an email to ourcosmicstory@gmail.com to request a copy. Be sure to mention that you saw this on the Weekly Space Hangout.

Please note that this offer has expired as of Noon EST on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

Book Giveaway – Exoplanets
14. April 2017

On Friday, May 12, the WSH will welcome authors Michael Summers and James Trefil to the show to discuss their new book, Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets and the New Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System. In anticipation of their appearance, the WSH Crew is pleased to offer our viewers a chance to win one of two hard cover copies of Exoplanets. Two winners will be drawn live by Fraser Cain during our show on May 12th.

To learn more about Michael and James visit their respective websites:
» Mike Summers
» James Trefil

To read more about their book visit the Smithsonian Books Site.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Exoplanets, send an email to:

giveaways@wshcrew.space

with the subject Exoplanets. Be sure to include your name and email address in the body of your message so that we can contact the winners afterwards.

All entries must be electronically postmarked by 23:59 EST on May 10, 2017, in order to be eligible.

No purchase necessary. Two winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries.

Good luck!

Please note that this offer has expired on 23:59 EST on May 10, 2017, 23:59 EST. The two winners will be drawn live on the Weekly Space Hangout on May 12th!

New Journalist & Guest Lists and other Updates
4. April 2016

It’s Spring and we’ve done a minor overhaul of the website with some changes and additions:

• Completely new Journalist and Guest index pages, with lots of links and other information.

• The old Journalist overview from the Links page is superseded by the new Journalist Index.

• There’s a new Hangout Central page which now has the links to all Hangout-related subpages.

• The HANGOUTS button in the main menu now goes to Hangout Central, where all links are available. The legacy address www.wsh-crew.net/hangouts will still point to the current schedule index.

• The CALENDAR link has been replaced by a COMMUNITY link in the main menu. The calendar page is still accessible over Hangout Central and the  legacy short addresses www.wsh-crew.net/calendar and bit.ly/wshcalendar.

• The Beginner’s Guide to Watching G+ Hangouts on Air has been taken offline because things have changed so much with the switch to the Youtube Livestream format that it was not relevant anymore.

• The main page subtitle now reads WEB PORTAL instead of SUPPORT PAGE.

That’s all – we hope everybody likes the improvements and we always welcome comments, suggestions and even bug reports over in our community! Please note that some of the internal files of the website has changed and if you see something weird, reload the webpace and/or clear your cache because there might be an outdated CSS file in your browser.

Help us select the Stories for the WSH!
1. December 2015

We have been performing an experiment in the last weeks. As +Fraser Cain had suggested in his earlier post we’re going to work together to pick the stories that get covered on the Weekly Space Hangout. (This is an expanded and updated version of the original blog article and Jim Meeker’s original Google+ post from October 20.)

To keep track of all of this we’re using a web application called Trello. If you want to help us out by adding stories to the list and also by voting you’ll need to create a Trello account and send us your username so that we can give you access. To do this, please contact +Guido Bibra on Google+ either with a privately shared post or a hangouts message. Note that you have the option to sign up on Trello with your Google credentials, so you don’t need to create a separate login.

Once we have given you access to the WSH Voting Board you’ll be able to add stories to the board, view all of the stories we’re tracking and vote on them. We’re going to send out a notice in the community on Thursdays asking everyone to go vote and Friday Fraser and his band of space journalists will pick the top stories based upon our voting.

Once You’re on the Trello Board you’ll see several lists. The far left one is the current list of stories that we’re voting on for the upcoming episode. Fading Stories contains topics that have not yet been covered in the WSH and Previously Covered is an archive of the main list. There is also a list for special guest suggestions and one with helpful instructions and hints. In the Android and iOS apps, just swipe to the left to scroll horizontally to the other lists.

Submit and Vote Wisely. Obviously, if someone submits “Khardashian Wedding/Divorce” stories and they win, we’re going to have to do something else (i.e. deleting stories or banning people – but this has not happened yet). We ask you to give only three votes each week so the votes will be more evenly distributed. If you submit a story, you can, of course, also share it in the community but only stories on the Trello board will be considered for the show.

If you want to vote for a story click on the headline and a box will pop up that shows you more information about the story and allows you to vote for it. In the Android app, tap on the card with the story you want to vote for to open it and look in the top right menu with the three vertical dots for the vote feature.

Some useful Google Chrome add-ons that you might want to try:

» Add to Trello submits stories to the Trello list similarly to how the “Add to Amazon Wishlist” button does. It makes submitting stories to the list much easier.

» Ultimello allows you to sort the lists by number of votes received (and other criteria too).

Please remember this is still an experiment at this point. We may change (and have already changed) things around a bit once we’ve tried this and learned more about everything.

Quick Link to the WSH Voting board: bit.ly/WSHVote

Book Review: Breaking the Chains of Gravity
7. November 2015

By Guido Bibra, archived from the community and the original blog entry.

The history of the space race between the USA and Russia is well documented, but what happened before NASA was founded in 1958 is much less common knowledge. In her new book Breaking the Chains of Gravity, spaceflight historian Amy Shira Teitel takes up the task of telling the story of the early days of what would ultimately launch humanity into space. On her Vintage Space Blog and her Youtube Channel, she has already often talked about this rarely mentioned era, but Breaking the Chains of Gravity is much more than just a simple collection of blog posts.

The books sticks close to the facts, but as the author mentions in her introductory video, this is not a technical reference manual. Instead, it centers around the people behind the technology, the inventors, engineers and even visionaries that have made spaceflight possible. One of the key figures is, of course, Wernher von Braun, but for Amy Shira Teitel telling just his story was not enough and so she went even further back to the hobby rocketeers in the late 1920s Germany around Max Valier, Herman Oberth and their Society for Space Travel. By necessity, the book is also partly a history of World War II, but the author has wisely kept close to the topic and does not dwell too much on the question of war crimes, although the devastation the V2 rockets were capable of does not go unmentioned.

After the end of WWII, the book shifts gears and tells the parallel stories of the German scientists and engineers around Wernher von Braun arriving in the USA and the efforts of the Americans themselves to successfully build rockets both as weapons and for space exploration. This is also the more well-known story of Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield and Neil Armstrong flying rocket planes to break the sound barrier and almost reaching space, but the equally harrowing tales of flight surgeons John Paul Stapp self-experimenting with deceleration and David Simmons’ high-altitude balloon flights are mentioned more than just in passing. American politics under President Eisenhower also take up a larger part of the book’s second half, which describes in detail the decisions of the US administration that ultimately led to the creation of NASA.

Amy Shira Teitel’s writing style closely resembles her many blog posts, but here it seems even more refined and improved. While she has chosen to omit technical details, her writing is far from dumbed down and actually full of minute details and facts rarely mentioned anywhere else. The narrative successfully avoids being a dry history lesson and instead conveys the author’s enthusiasm for the subject by being engaging and suspenseful, but at the same time not too emotional. The book has only two negative aspects: it ends in 1957 with the creation of NASA and the Russian spaceflight efforts are hardly mentioned at all – but both are entirely understandable and would have warranted a whole second book… which perhaps may be forthcoming in the future.

Breaking the Chains of Gravity has been released in Europe and Asia on October 22 and will be available in the US on January 22 next year. An audiobook version (sadly not read by the author herself) is already out in the US.

The Weekly Space Hangout Viewer Map is Online!
1. November 2015

The Weekly Space Hangout and the other Universe Today and CosmoQuest hangouts have viewers from all over the world and it has become somewhat of a tradition to say hello in the Q&As during the live broadcasts mentioning the location you are watching from. We thought it would be a great idea to make a map of all the countries and cities the hangout viewers hail from and we already started the map with a few locations from the WSH Crew Team. But we are counting on more contributions from the whole WSH Crew Community, so here’s how it’s going to work:

To be included, post a comment in the G+ Community thread with your location and we will add it.
If you are concerned with privacy, pick a public location somewhere approximately near you.
The map will, of course, be anonymous – only the city name will be listed as a description.
The map will not be static, but regularly updated as long as new contributions come in!

»» Go to the Map Page (or click on the picture on the right)

Help Us Select the Stories Covered on the WSH!
20. October 2015

Note: this is a copy of the original Google+ post from +Jim Meeker.

We’re performing an experiment this week. As +Fraser Cain suggested in his earlier post we’re going to work together to pick the stories that get covered on the Weekly Space Hangout.

To keep track of all of this we’re using a web application called Trello. If you want to help us out by adding stories to the list and also by voting you’ll need to create a Trello account and send me your username so that I can give you access (Probably via Google Hangouts would be best/safest).

Once I’ve given you access you’ll be able to view all of the stories we’re tracking and vote on them. We’re going to send out a notice on Thursday asking everyone to go vote and Friday Fraser and his band of space journalists will pick the top stories based upon our voting.

Submit and Vote Wisely. Obviously, if someone submits “Khardashian Wedding/Divorce” stories and they win, we’re going to have to do something else (i.e. deleting stories or banning people).

Once You’re on the Trello Board you’ll see three lists. The far left one is the stories that we’re voting on for the upcoming episode. The middle one is stories that have already been covered on the WSH. The right one is full of helpful instructions and hints. In the Android and iOS apps, just swipe to the left to scroll horizontally to the other lists.

If you want to vote for a story click on the headline and a box will popup that shows you more information about the story and allows you to vote for it.

Some Google Chrome add-ons that you might want to try…

Add to Trello Submits stories to the Trello list similarly to how the “Add to Amazon Wishlist” button does. It makes submitting stories to the list much easier.

Ultimello allows you to sort the lists by number of votes received (and other criteria too).

Please remember this is an experiment at this point. We may change things around a bit once we’ve tried this and learned more about everything.

Quick Link to the WSH Voting board: bit.ly/WSHVote

The WSH Crew Community Website is Live!
7. September 2015

Welcome to the WSH Crew Community Support Page!

This website is an addition to the WSH Crew Google+ Community, an awesome place about space, science and astronomy themed hangouts and related news of all sorts. We, the moderator team of the community, created this website to keep all the information we could not easily store in the community itself in one place. This is basically The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the WSH Crew Community and here are some quick notes:

• This website is read-only because we want to keep the conversation in the community.

• The hangout calendar, schedule list and main page are updated by us as timely as possible.

• We will rarely post news in this section, if there is something important we will post in the community.

• If you want to contact us, please do so on Google+ by writing in the community or in a privately shared post.

• Like the community, this website is still growing and will be expanded over time.

• You can now also follow us on Twitter at @wshcrew!

That is basically all that is to say for now – we’re looking forward to seeing you all over in the community!

Your WSH Crew Admins Nancy, Guido, Hugo, Silvan & Jim