Four astronomers celebrate 50 years of work and friendship by going on a road trip to revisit some of the world's greatest observatories. In California, a world leader in observational astronomy at a time when America's space programme was at its height, the astronomers spent their formative years developing friendships that would last a lifetime, and making scientific discoveries that would change the course of history. Together they represent the most productive period astronomy has ever had. Their journey through the southwestern United States allows them to see once again the places and landscape they explored as young men. Now in their 70s, they share their reflections on a life spent looking at the universe. Star Men celebrates the history of stargazing: the inventions and discoveries that have enabled us to learn so much about the universe, but more importantly to understand how much more we have yet to discover.
The oceans define the earth. They are crucial to life and we used to think that they were unique to our blue planet. But we were wrong. It has recently been discovered that there are oceans all over our solar system, and they are very similar to our own. And now scientists are going on an epic journey in search of new life in places that never seemed possible. Nasa is even planning to dive to the depths of a strange, distant ocean in a remarkable submarine. Horizon discovers that the hunt for oceans in space is marking the dawn of a new era in the search for alien life.
Right now, we know there is water on the Moon. But how much water? Is water largely at the poles? These are Strategic Knowledge Gaps that scientists are working to fill in, and a Resource Prospector robot will be launched to the moon in the 2020's to look for the presence of water
How do astronomers make sense out of the vastness of space? How do they study things so far away? Today Phil talks about distances, going back to early astronomy. Ancient Greeks were able to find the size of the Earth, and from that the distance to and the sizes of the Moon and Sun. Once the Earth/Sun distance was found, parallax was used to find the distance to nearby stars, and that was bootstrapped using brightness to determine the distances to much farther stars.