Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, consists of more than stars and planets. The wide variety of other celestial objects that call the Milk Way home are described. And the Milky Way is not alone but has some nearby companions.
Scientists hunt for dark matter in the strangest of places. They know where it is, what it does and can sort of see it if they look in the right way. They just can't quite figure out what it is or how to get their hands on it even though it's everywhere. But it is well understood compared to dark energy which is an even bigger mystery.
Scientists speculate on how life originated on earth based on the range of conditions where life survives today and the conditions that existed on the early earth. They then look for those conditions, past or present, that may exist on other planets or moons.
The many and various hazards to space travel are explained. But solving that problem better propulsion systems are need to travel anywhere beyond the moon. Some possibilities, both realistic and speculative, are described.
Although supernovas are associated with the death of stars they also seed the universe with heavy elements that comprise rocky planets like Earth and living creatures. Due to their extraordinary brightness supernovas have a recorded history dating back 2,000 years. Although closely studied for decades their infrequency has permitted only a general understanding of their behavior until very recently. New computer models can model the major details of the explosion while new exploratory techniques reveal many more events including some truly super supernovas.
In this program the constellations serve as a backdrop for the diversity of stellar objects and for a few very special stars that serve as navigation aids for sailors, seasonal markers for farmers or distance milestones for astronomers.
Collisions between relatively minor bodies in the solar system can have far reaching effects. Astronomers are trying to trace meteors that caused mass extinctions back to the event that cause them to cross Earth's path in case they have relatives waiting to pay a visit.
They are the crown jewels of the galaxy. Neither stars, planets, moons or asteroids, they are the mysterious clouds of gas we call NEBULAS. Nearly invisible to the naked eye, astronomers use the most sophisticated techniques to tease images of these fascinating phenomena from the dark sky. When revealed in their full glory, they glow, reflect or obscure the galaxy's light.
If a planet has an atmosphere it has weather. And where there is weather there are storms. Our solar system is chock full of them. And the bigger the temperature extreme the bigger the storm. Which makes Earth hurricanes and thunderstorms seem rather uninteresting.
Compared to the largest things in the universe galaxies are trifles compared to super clusters, voids, lyman alpha blobs, and the cosmic web. But even among the smaller objects such as stars and planets, some are mind boggling by human standards.
In space travel there is a saying that the first 50 miles and the last 50 miles are the most dangerous. Explore the controlled explosion of launch, the fiery crucible of reentry and everything in between. See how a single spark inside a spacecraft or a micrometeoroid less than an inch wide hitting a space station can turn a routine mission into a lethal nightmare.
Some of the world's leading physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our Solar System, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in what scientist now call "The Multiverse.
At this very moment, celestial forces prowl the Universe and threaten man's very existence. They're asteroids and comets--and they've left their imprint on planet Earth, literally. Initially, they helped build planets through violent collisions. During this fiery bombardment period, they may have even seeded Earth with water and the building blocks for life.
When mankind eventually leaves the cradle of Earth and ventures forth into the uncharted territories of the cosmos, where, and what form, will our new homes take? Will they be cities under glass, entrenched in distant alien soils? Will they be gleaming metropolises hanging in orbit above our heads, or in the lonely void of space?