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View Full Version : Astronomy/Exploration documentaries and dvds you must see



Launch window
2007-May-18, 08:11 AM
I've decided to pick Ten

1Cosmos by Sagan

2From the Earth to the Moon (Michael Grossman, Tom Amandes, Tom Hanks, Amy Brooke Baker)

3BBC Hyperspace with Sam Neill (covers alien life, blackholes, asteroids)

4NASA 50 Years of Exploration

5The Dish (Australian comedy)

6NOVA: Monster of the Milky Way

7Apollo 13 the movie

8The Astronomers by Linda Feferman and James Golway

9The Right Stuff (Scott Glenn, Ed Harris directed by Philip Kaufman)

10Cosmos (Snow narration on cosmology)


What would your choice be ?

Paul Beardsley
2007-May-18, 09:02 AM
Out of that lot, I would go for Apollo 13 first. Sagan's Cosmos was particularly nice because they filmed historical scenes with actors in costume and in character.

Some of the others I've seen bits of and would love to see them all the way through.

I'd be a bit hesitant to recommend The Dish, though. It was a bit... boring and not very funny. I'd prefer Homer Hickman's story (Rocket Boys?) about how he and his friends built rockets while his father worked in a coal mine. I think the film plays up the father-son relationship a little more than it needs to, but it's still an excellent film. It's not a comedy, but the funny bits are really funny (a scene involving a train and a rail...) and of course it is a true story.

ToSeek
2007-May-18, 12:34 PM
I'd prefer Homer Hickman's story (Rocket Boys?) about how he and his friends built rockets while his father worked in a coal mine. I think the film plays up the father-son relationship a little more than it needs to, but it's still an excellent film. It's not a comedy, but the funny bits are really funny (a scene involving a train and a rail...) and of course it is a true story.

The movie (at least in the US) was called October Sky, based on the book Rocket Boys (which are anagrams, interestingly enough). The main character (and the writer) is Homer Hickam.

As for the original list, I'd be inclined to squeeze the BBC series The Planets in there somewhere, though I'm not sure what I'd kick out.

Paul Beardsley
2007-May-18, 12:45 PM
The movie (at least in the US) was called October Sky, based on the book Rocket Boys (which are anagrams, interestingly enough).
That is an interesting anagram! Quite a Wow! moment - and I'm not being sarcastic.

Another one I'd like to squeeze in is an episode of Horizon from around 1977 (i.e. about a year after it happened) about the Viking landing on Mars. I remember it as being outstandingly beautiful. But then I was only 14 at the time.

OneHotJupiter
2007-May-18, 01:44 PM
What about Spacecraft films Apollo series?

I am about to spend 90$ on the Apollo 17 6 disc set , anybody see them?

How are they?

SMEaton
2007-May-18, 10:24 PM
A documentary called "In The Shadow Of The Moon" should be coming to theaters and DVD soon... I saw an advance screening at a film festival in my hometown a couple of months ago. It had a lot of "new" (previously unseen) footage from all of the Apollo missions, plus interviews with surviving Apollo astronauts. A great film! It's supposed to be in theaters in September.

Launch window
2007-May-19, 05:23 AM
As for the original list, I'd be inclined to squeeze the BBC series The Planets in there somewhere, though I'm not sure what I'd kick out.

I've missed this one but hope to watch it soon

The Bad Astronomer
2007-May-19, 09:17 PM
The Dish is a fine movie, but it's hardly a documentary. They conflated Honeysuckle Creek with Parkes, and made lots of other historical inaccuracies. Apollo 13, which still had a lot of "shortcuts", was more accurate.

Chip
2007-May-19, 09:55 PM
Just a few more recommendations:

Mysteries of Deep Space (http://www.pbs.org/deepspace/) - a three part PBS special was very well done. Well chosen questions and a touch of humor but also visually beautiful. (There have been badly made TV space documentaries from a film-making perspective. This one has splendid production values.)

Universe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe_(documentary)) – a short black & white film made by the Canadian Film Board back in 1959/60. Though out of date today, the film still inspires, the special effects are imaginative and the film also shows you how astronomers prepare for work and how they took spectrographs in the old days. Out of date but visually stunning. Influenced "2001 - A Space Odyssey".

Life Beyond Earth (http://www.pbs.org/lifebeyondearth/) – Timothy Ferris documentary from 1999 is very good. His earlier documentary "Creation of the Universe" from 1985 has some fascinating information in it but I also wish he would update it.

Tucson_Tim
2007-May-21, 07:54 PM
Life Beyond Earth (http://www.pbs.org/lifebeyondearth/) Timothy Ferris documentary from 1999 is very good. His earlier documentary "Creation of the Universe" from 1985 has some fascinating information in it but I also wish he would update it.

I have 5 audio books by Timothy Ferris (also read by the author) and they are truly wonderful. I listen to them when I go to sleep.

peteshimmon
2007-May-22, 05:44 PM
One show I never saw was The Violent Universe
by Nigel Calder. It was first transmitted in
1969. I mentioned it to my Aunt who made me
instantly jealous by saying she had seen it
in colour! It was to be years before I enjoyed
colour telly. Now 38 years later I have had
exactly the same reaction after reading a blog
where a little minx states "It was the first
program I watched in colour!". My book of the
show states it was a BBC-PBL production. So I
hope a dvd will be forthcoming. It would also
be neat to have copies of an Open University
series of shows where the late George Abell is
demonstrating work at Palomar. Music was superb!

Gillianren
2007-May-23, 06:17 AM
1Cosmos by Sagan

Can't afford it, but will get it when I can.


2From the Earth to the Moon (Michael Grossman, Tom Amandes, Tom Hanks, Amy Brooke Baker)

Never have money when I see it in stores, of course.


4NASA 50 Years of Exploration

Heh. We saw this in Costco the other day. My boyfriend notices it and said it was the sort of thing he thought I would like. I told him that not only did I already have it, he'd given it to me. He said he hadn't, but he had--he put one of my best friends in charge of my presents from him while he's gone. She picks 'em out; he pays for 'em. So at least in theory, he got me the NASA.


5The Dish (Australian comedy)

Haven't seen it in any of our local stores; I'll have to order it online if I want to get it. (It's not a documentary, of course, but I thought it was funny, anyway.)


7Apollo 13 the movie

Now, this one, I have.

parallaxicality
2007-May-23, 07:27 PM
No one's mentioned "The Planets". Excellent science/history doc. The Beeb really needs to do an update.

R.A.F.
2007-May-23, 07:53 PM
What about Spacecraft films Apollo series?

I am about to spend 90$ on the Apollo 17 6 disc set , anybody see them?

How are they?

Any selection from spacecraft films (http://spacecraftfilms.com) is well worth the money.

That's the "problem"...once you've gotten one, you'll want to get them all. :)

ToSeek
2007-May-23, 08:55 PM
No one's mentioned "The Planets". Excellent science/history doc. The Beeb really needs to do an update.

Ahem. (http://www.bautforum.com/showpost.php?p=989227&postcount=3)

parallaxicality
2007-May-23, 09:18 PM
oh.