Science for Your Ears (and Eyes)

by | Nov 15, 2012 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Having a slow night? Can’t find anything to watch on Netflix? Maybe you need some podcast goodness to get you through your commute? The subject of astronomy entertainment came up in two recent Hangouts, so I’d like to share these resources here as well.

First up, I took over the Virtual Star Party last Sunday where things got a bit silly, and we had some gorgeous astrophotography coming in from Gary Gonnella and Thad Szabo. We had a question about interesting astronomy documentaries and videos, so we compiled our suggestions and collected some from the audience as well! Please note, I don’t actually have a TV or cable at home, so I can’t tell you much about where and when to find these on TV. But a quick Google search will help you, but be sure to check Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and the other usual internet places. The discussion was continued when Scott and I were left in charge of the Wednesday Science Hour and we talked about Carl Sagan. So we have plenty of video resources for watching his works.

Without further ado, here is a list:

  • History Channel’s “The Universe” – This started the discussion as a great starting point for someone interested in astronomy.
  • Cosmos – Duh. I mean if you haven’t watched “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan and you are a fan of astronomy? Fix that. Please. It is on Hulu and YouTube for free. And Netflix. And iTunes. And… just go watch it!
  • All of the “Wonders” series by Brian Cox – Big in the UK! But I think the Science Channel shows it in the US. So far he as done “Wonders of the Solar System” and “Wonders of the Universe” with “Wonders of Life” coming soon.
  • Bruce Betts’ Online Astronomy Course – offered through the Planetary Society, a set of 13 lectures focusing on planets, but expanding to stars and galaxies at the end.
  • Planetary Radio – also from the Planetary Society, this podcast is hosted by Mat Kaplan who totally rocks, IMO
  • Seeing in the Dark – PBS film by Tim Ferris, which “gets into the romance of amateur astronomy” according to one of our VSP astronomers.
  • Star Talk – the podcast and now vidcast by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
  • Big Picture Science – Formerly known as “Are We Alone,” I particularly enjoy this SETI-produced podcast.
  • How the Universe Works – I think I had one of these playing on the Discovery Channel while I was half-asleep at an observatory and it woke me up because I heard Phil Plait talking and I thought, why is Phil in my hotel room? And it was the TV. Actually it was an entertaining watch, but the tiredness of observing won over.
  • Through the Wormhole – It’s a bit “out there.” But it’s narrated by Morgan Freeman.
  • The Perfect Machine – This is a documentary about the building of the famous Palomar Telescope.

And here is the Carl Sagan specific list, in addition to “Cosmos” above:

And if you are here you should also check out Astronomy Cast which has been running since 2006. That’s like forever in internet time. In fact, you can now view those episodes as hangouts as well. Go to the AstroSphere YouTube channel to view all the Science Hour, Virtual Star Party, Astronomy Cast, Space Hangout, and Special Event videos that we corral through CosmoQuest. Plus, there are some exciting new things in the works…

Really, you have no excuse for being bored. We’re here to entertain your brain.


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