Wednesday, March 24, 2010
New NOVA Special - Hunting the Edge of Space
I was very fortunate to receive a pre-release copy of an upcoming two part NOVA special called Hunting the Edge of Space. Like most everything produced by NOVA, I found this documentary fascinating and I’m happy to review it here on the SLB. The segments are scheduled to air in April: Part one will be shown on April 6 - The Mystery of the Milky Way and part two will be shown on April 13 – The Ever Expanding Universe.
Part one focuses on bringing the viewers up close with today’s powerful telescopes and embarks on a stunning journey to the planets and moons now being imaged as never before. A generous dose of astronomical history is also provided with an expose of Galileo’s simple spy glass and his important discoveries. Others mentioned include Isaac Newton, William Herschel (who we learn was actually a musician with a fascination with the night sky), as well as a couple of amateur astronomers who have made important recent discoveries. I think NOVA made a great move by highlighting the work of noted amateur Ron Bissinger who discovered seven exoplanets from his backyard telescope because it gives all of us science enthusiasts hope that we may one day make a serious contribution.
Part two centered on cosmological concepts such as the expanding and accelerating universe as well as dark matter and dark energy.
Hunting the Edge of Space packs a lot of content into just two hours and you may need some supplemental materials to make sense of some of the concepts covered, but at a high level this NOVA special is an excellent vehicle for introducing contemporary areas of astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics to the lay public. I think it would be a wonderful way to spend a family science evening at home with the kids. So fire up your DVR and be sure not to miss this one!