Astronauts, Obama to host Google+ hangouts

Obama to take questions two days after State of the Union address

Google's social network, Google+, is getting attention from the likes of astronauts and the U.S. president.

NASA announced that, for the first time, the space agency will host a Google+ hangout at 11 a.m. ET on Feb. 22 with astronauts aboard the International Space Station flying 240 miles above Earth.

The hangout enables a face-to-face online chat for as many as 10 people, though thousands can watch it live on Google+ or YouTube.

According to NASA, people on the hangout can ask the astronauts questions, while others can submit questions via video. The video questions, which need to be 30 seconds or less, can be submitted to YouTube with the hashtag #askAstro. They must be submitted by Feb. 12 and must use the hashtag to be considered.

To ask real-time questions during the hangout, user can submit the questions on Google+ or on Twitter using the same hashtag: #askAstro. Comments or questions can also be posted on NASA's Facebook page on the morning of the event.

However, the astronauts aren't the only ones in the hangout spotlight.

Just two days after his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama will host a hangout on Thursday at 4:50 p.m. ET when he will take real-time questions in what the administration is calling a "Fireside Hangout." The hangout is a 21st century version of the famous Fireside Chats that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered over the radio in the 1930s and '40s.

Users can submit questions or vote on their favorite questions that others have posed on the president's YouTube channel.

The Fireside Hangout can be watched on the WhiteHouse.gov page, the White House Google+ page and YouTube.com channel.

Obama, who has been a savvy social networking user since he first ran for president, held a hangout in January 2012, taking questions after his State of the Union address.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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