If you think you might barely have an interest in astronomy, even if it is just a vague inkling that perhaps astronomy might have something useful to contribute to your life, then you MUST take 16 minutes and watch this amazing video. The video is titled “A Cosmological Fantasia.”
Make sure you’ve play the video at HD resolution, full screen size, and with your computer’s speakers turned up.
Close your door and don’t answer the phone.
What you’re seeing is a collage of video clips taken from the BBC series, “Wonders of the Universe,” a program that airs on the Science Channel and is completely worth watching.
The video contains no narration, no charts, no explanations… just a series of CGI animations based on and blended with real astronomical images from the world’s great observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, presented with an astonishing soundtrack.
Is it a science lesson? Is it a music video? Is it a CGI demo?
This is why I love astronomy – it appeals to people on so many different levels and offers connections to so many other disciplines.
What are you looking at?
Stellar nurseries. Roiling suns. Star clusters. Supernovae. Pulsars. Black Holes. Galaxies.
The story of stellar evolution is laid out as a non-verbal, highly emotional thrill ride, illustrated with cutting edge computer graphics and accompanied by a soundtrack that will amaze you.
Only hard-core astronomy lovers need proceed beyond this point.
After you have played the video a couple of times, start thinking about the scales of time and distance involved in these animations.
What is the time involved for the star formation shown at 1:20?
How long did it take the Earth-swallowing Red Giant star to form at 3:30?
How fast are you moving as you recede from the galaxy at 4:10?
How big is your field of view at 4:45?
How strong is the radiation, and how much gravity are you feeling above the Blue Giant star at 5:17?
How big is the nebula at 8:50?
How big is the pulsar at 9:10, and how massive is it?
How much energy is being released by the Supernova at 11:25, and how far from it are you? How fast is the Supernova expanding?
How long is it going to take the Black Hole at 14:25 to devour the ill-fated star caught by its gravity?
This is good stuff. We should celebrate the fact that people in the world are putting the time and talent into projects like this.