Wonders of the Solar System

| April 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

We already had a look at the Wonders of the Universe (the book) by Brian Cox so why not check out another great work, this time a documentary, called “Wonders of the Solar System”. It’s an award winning science series co-produced by BBC & The Science Channel and, as you might guess from the title, it’s all about the solar system. So how does this project stand out from other great works of Brian Cox & the BBC team? Let’s take a look.

The series comprises five episodes, each of which focuses on an aspect of the Solar System and features a ‘wonder’ relevant to the theme. Wonders explores some of the most amazing features of our very own solar system – how the forces of nature carved out beauty and order from the chaos of space; how our home planet doesn’t sit in magnificent isolation but is intimately connected with the rest of the solar system; and how these connections have created a very unique planet, which we call Earth. Using the latest scientific knowledge and breathtaking images beamed back from the fleet of probes, rovers and telescopes currently in space, Brian Cox will show you the beauty from some of the most spectacular, extreme locations on Earth.

As usual (with BBC documentaries) I would like to compliment the stunning visuals and the great production value of this documentary. BBC team did an amazing job of filming in the most extreme and amazing location. Even a glimpse at the trailer gives you an idea of how hard and time consuming it was filming it. You can see Brian Cox explaining the laws of physics from deserts, diving deep underwater to find out more about the various ecosystems in Earth and even flying in a jet plane.

Brian Cox himself is good as always. He explains the complex physics concepts as simply as possible and, what is even more important, he knows how to share his passion for physics with the wide audience. But don’t get fooled, there’s a lot of useful scientific information in the show. Cox tells the viewers about all the planets in the solar system, their moons and the solar system in general. Furthermore,  Cox explains how some of the greatest discoveries about the solar system were actually made.

Here’s a short review of each episode:

1. “Empire of the Sun”

The first episode illustrates how the formation and behaviour of the Sun affects the planets in the Solar System. During this episode, Cox visits India to view and explain the workings of a total solar eclipse. Actually he even has a chance of observing an eclipse, which is amazing. Later in the episode the Aurora Borealis is also seen in Norway which is followed by an explanation of the power of the Sun  in Death Valley, California, USA.

2. “Order Out of Chaos”

Cox starts this episode in Tunisia where he analyses the orbit of the planets around our Sun, with details on how the tilt of the axis of Earth creates the seasons. He also visits the Atlas Mountains and provides an explanation of the how we see the orbit of Mars. Also be ready for an insight on the rings of Saturn and the geysers of Enceladus, including images shown as seen from theCassini–Huygens space probe.

3. “The Thin Blue Line”

The third episode explores the atmosphere of the planets and moons of the Solar System, with Earth, Mars, and Titan being the main focus. The episode starts with Cox taking a journey in an English Electric Lightning piloted by “Mike Beachy Head” up to an altitude “between 55 and 60 thousand feet” where the “thinness and fragility” of the atmosphere could be observed in the middle of the day transitioning “from light blue to dark blue to black”. Later, in the Namib Desert the viewers get an explanation on how the Earth keeps its temperature.

4. “Dead or Alive”

The fourth episode begins at the Grand Canyon, where  immediate comparisons are drawn to Mars and the Valles Marineris. A trip to Kīlauea on Hawaii gives insights to the geological activity of Earth, and again a comparison to Mars and Olympus Mons is seen. An analysis of Jupiter’s gravitational effect is given with how it could potentially send an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The same gravitational force is also shown to give the Jovian moon Io geological life.

5. “Aliens”

The final installment covers life surviving in extreme environments, and how the search for life on other worlds follows the search for water. Cox begins by travelling to the deep ocean to draw comparisons between space travel and underwater travel. The Atacama Desert in South America is also explored, as an example of  lack of life in such environments. A trip to the Scablands in North-West America is also made with an explanation of the Missoula Floods that once occurred there, and how it shaped the landscape geologically.


About the DVD:

  • Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. For the UK version click here. For other versions head here)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Studio: BBC Worldwide
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2010
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Amazon Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003NF97OE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,190 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Science & History Documentaries)




  1.  Website of Brian Cox
  2.  Wonders of the Solar System on Amazon




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Category: Physics & Science Documentaries

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