The Best Episodes of How the Universe Works
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2018
A users' guide to the cosmos, from the Big Bang to galaxies, stars, planets and moons: where did it all come from and how does it all fit together? A primer for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.
#1 - Supernovas
Season 1 - Episode 6
Stars are not eternal; they are dying in unimaginably large explosions called supernovas. Second only to the Big Bang, these explosions are where creation and destruction meet. Only now have we begun to understand how these wonders in our sky work.
#2 - Black Holes
Season 1 - Episode 2
Black Holes,the most powerful destroyers in the Universe, the most mysterious phenomena in the heavens. For years they were only speculation, now modern astronomy is proving them frighteningly real and showing that they may well shape everything we see.
#3 - Stars
Season 1 - Episode 4
The story of how stars were made by the Universe and how Stars then went on to engineer everything else in that very universe. They changed the Universe by spawning further generations of stars, then planets and eventually the building blocks of life.
#4 - Galaxies
Season 1 - Episode 3
Galaxies, home to stars, planets and us, come in all shapes and sizes. Witnesses the evolution of galaxies; from clouds of cold gas floating in the voids of space 13 billion years ago, to the magnificent spirals that fill our night sky.
#5 - Big Bang
Season 1 - Episode 1
This is the greatest story ever told, the creation of everything us. The programme investigates how the Universe came into existence out of nothing, and how it grew from a miniscule point, smaller than an atomic particle, to the vast cosmos we see today.
#7 - Birth of the Earth
Season 2 - Episode 8
The Earth was formed by a series of cataclysms without which we would not exist. Could the same events have created other earth-like planets elsewhere in the Universe inhabited by creatures like us?
#8 - Planets
Season 1 - Episode 5
There are just eight planets in our solar system, but there could be a hundred billion planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone. This show follows the journey of planets as they grow from grains of dust to the magnificently diverse worlds we see today.
#9 - Moons
Season 1 - Episode 8
Moons come in every possible shape and size. Home to incredible natural phenomena like gigantic geysers and colossal volcanoes, moons also offer perhaps the best chance of finding alien life in the Universe - and they probably exist in the billions.
#10 - Asteroids - Worlds that Never Were
Season 2 - Episode 7
From icy worlds with more fresh water than Earth to flying mountains of pure metal, asteroids shaped our past and promise much for the future. Could these enigmatic space rocks hold the key to how life in the Universe arises and is extinguished?
#11 - Extreme Orbits - Clockwork and Creation
Season 2 - Episode 5
We owe our existence to the stability of earth's orbit. But we are the freaks: everywhere else we look we find orbits are chaotic, unstable, and violent. Yet on the very largest scale, orbits are also a creative force, even constructing the fabric of the universe itself.
#12 - Our Voyage to the Stars
Season 3 - Episode 8
One day, a cosmic disaster will make life on Earth impossible. To survive, we must find a new home amongst the stars. Scientists are already developing new propulsion systems to take us to these distant worlds.
#13 - Solar Systems
Season 1 - Episode 7
Is our solar system unique? Since the first discovery of a planet orbiting another star, some 280 alien solar systems have been identified. It's only by looking at solar systems far beyond our own, that we can understand how remarkable our universe is.
#15 - Jupiter: Destroyer or Savior?
Season 3 - Episode 3
Beneath Jupiter's clouds lie our solar system's deepest secrets: from its violent youth, through the birth of life to the death of the sun. Scientists are discovering that the solar system, the Earth and every living thing exists because of Jupiter.
#16 - Megaflares - Cosmic Firestorms
Season 2 - Episode 4
The Universe is a magnetic minefield. Spinning star systems crackle and explode, magnetic monsters rip worlds apart, star-quakes shoot beams of devastating energy, and galactic flamethrowers fire gamma-rays half way across the Universe. Will we find Earth in the firing line?
#18 - Did a Black Hole Build the Milky Way?
Season 3 - Episode 7
What built the Milky Way? New research might now have the answer, revealing an unlikely hero. At the heart of our galaxy sits a super massive black hole, one of the most destructive objects in the Universe. Could it be our creator?
#19 - Planets from Hell
Season 2 - Episode 3
Over the last twenty years we have discovered an extraordinary zoo of planetary nightmares outside our own solar system, all of them truly wild worlds, a collection of monsters. Now we must face the question: Is every planet out there a planet from hell?
#24 - Comets - Frozen Wanderers
Season 2 - Episode 6
We follow the odyssey of a comet as it sails through space, watching every move as it evolves from a chunk of ice and rock into an active nucleus engulfed in a gaseous haze. What we learn is a revelation; comets are even more mysterious than we imagined.
#25 - Is Saturn Alive?
Season 3 - Episode 5
Saturn’s secrets are out. The ferocious weather, the evolving ring system and the discovery of active geology on Saturn’s moons has rewritten the textbooks. Scientists are looking for life on Saturn’s moons and they may have found it on Titan.