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Safely Gather-ing for Conferences during COVID

13 Mar 2021, 15:00 UTC
Safely Gather-ing for Conferences during COVID
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Find the Coolest Stars at Cool StarsA biennial highlight for astronomers who study low-mass stars, solar physics, and exoplanets is Cool Stars. This conference originated in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980, and since then 22 meetings have been held in alternating locations between North America and Europe. Cool Stars 21 was set to take place in Toulouse, France in summer 2020, but COVID-19 had other plans. Instead, last week over 1000 astronomers took to Zoom to participate in Cool Stars 20.5: Virtually Cool.This was the third virtual conference I attended during the pandemic, and I was expecting a similar experience to the first two: attending the meeting in my pajamas, trying to work on my own research while listening to talks, and having little to no interaction with my fellow conference-goers. However, Cool Stars 20.5 came equipped with a virtual meeting space called Gather.
Cool Stars Gets an Upgrade with GatherGather is “a video-calling space that lets multiple people hold separate conversations in parallel.” In it, conference-goers can create their own avatar that allows them to walk around the virtual meeting space, interacting with other nearby participants through both audio and video connections. You can see my avatar exploring the “rooftop” ...

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