The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide is a captivating six-part series, originally broadcast on the BBC. It is definitely not to be confused with Carl Sagan’s The Cosmos from the late seventies, although it is every bit as intriguing as Sagan’s series was. The Acorn Media Group are leaders the field of issuing original PBS and BBC programming. The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide, released under the Athena Learning rubric, is one of the most informative and entertaining titles they have produced this year.
One thing The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide greatly benefits from is the three decades of scientific development that have occurred since Sagan’s program. The first episode: “Life In The Cosmos” presents some mind-boggling facts. With an estimate of 10,000 planets in our galaxy alone that could support life – when expanded to the entire universe, the odds become (pardon the pun), astronomical as to the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms.
The remaining five programs are just as interesting. The self-explanatory titles are: “Building The Universe,” “Seeing The Universe,” “Space Exploration,” “Violent Universe,” and “Other Worlds.” While each of these half-hour shows are excellent, I found “Violent Universe” to be especially well done. The visuals alone are worth the price of admission, with footage of gamma-ray bursts and solar flares.
The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide is a two-DVD set, totaling approximately three hours. Extras include a gallery of Apollo astronauts and an informative “Viewer’s Guide” in booklet form. The guide discusses European space exploration, the messages we have incorporated into spacecraft for other beings to find, and the CERN super-collider, among others.
There is also a center-fold of “The Life Cycle Of Stars.” While the material contained on The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide is educational, it is also never less than fascinating. Like previous Athena releases such as The Genius Of Design and the Power Of Myth - The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide is well worth a look at, and is appropriate for all ages. This is a superb series.