This is the epic story of the stars, and how discovering their tale has transformed our own understanding of the universe. Once we thought the sun and stars were gods and giants. Now we know, in a way, our instincts were right. The stars do all have their own characters, histories and role in the cosmos. Not least, they played a vital part in creating us. There are old, bloated red giants, capable of gobbling up planets in their orbit; explosive deaths - supernovae - that forge the building blocks of life; and black holes, the most mysterious stellar tombstones. And, of course, stars in their prime, like our own sun. Leading astronomers reveal how the grandest drama on tonight is the one playing above our heads.
The worlds that surround our planet are all made of rock, but there the similarity ends. Some have a beating geological heart, others are frozen in time. Professor Brian Cox travels to the tallest mountain on Earth, the volcano Mauna Kea on Hawaii, to show how something as basic as a planet's size can make the difference between life and death.
Earth has a companion in space so large that it rules our nights, our months, our ocean tides. Why Earth should have such a moon is one of the deepest mysteries of the Solar System. We tell the story of how the Earth’s satellite became the unlikely object of desire of the two Cold War superpowers.
For centuries the giant planets floated on the fringes of the solar system as distant objects in the eyepieces of astronomers. But in December 1973 mankind had its first close encounter with Jupiter. We chart the story of our discovery of these massive planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
There are Black Holes, and then there are Monster Black Holes -- containing several million to ten billion times the mass of our Sun! They've been discovered in the center of many galaxies. But they don't just absorb everything around them...in fact, they may be key to forming new galaxies.
Were "little green men" trying to contact us? Over 40 years ago, extremely constant pulses were detected reaching the Earth from outer space. It caused a great sensation. Using a radio telescope larger than a baseball field, scientists looked for the source of these signals and found - pulsars.