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.

Supernovas

#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.

star 8.28
127 votes
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Black Holes

#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.

star 8.26
217 votes
Directors: Peter Chinn
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Stars

#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.

star 8.22
174 votes
Directors: Peter Chinn
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Galaxies

#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.

star 8.19
200 votes
Directors: Louise Say
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Big Bang

#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.

star 8.17
299 votes
Directors: Louise Say
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Stars That Kill

#6 - Stars That Kill

Season 5 - Episode 5

Exploring the real-life Death Stars in the cosmos that could snuff out Earth without much effort; the science of the destructive power behind six of the deadliest star; vampire stars; supernovas; rogue stars.

star 8.16
73 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Birth of the Earth

#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?

star 8.14
84 votes
Directors: George Harris
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Planets

#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.

star 8.13
142 votes
Directors: Lorne Townend
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Moons

#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.

star 8.10
122 votes
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Asteroids - Worlds that Never Were

#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?

star 8.10
61 votes
Directors: George Harris
Writers:
Buy on iTunes
Extreme Orbits - Clockwork and Creation

#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.

star 8.09
92 votes
Directors: Adam Warner
Writers:
Buy on iTunes
Our Voyage to the Stars

#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.

star 8.08
85 votes
Buy on iTunes
Solar Systems

#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.

star 8.07
132 votes
Directors: Lorne Townend
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Mystery of Spacetime

#14 - Mystery of Spacetime

Season 6 - Episode 10

Spacetime is the secret structure that controls the universe, and this strange four-dimensional substance controls time, light, and energy. It will also determine how the universe will end.

star 8.03
35 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Jupiter: Destroyer or Savior?

#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.

star 8.01
92 votes
Buy on iTunes
Megaflares - Cosmic Firestorms

#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?

star 7.98
88 votes
Writers:
Buy on iTunes
Life & Death on the Red Planet

#17 - Life & Death on the Red Planet

Season 5 - Episode 7

The evolution of life on Mars before a series of cataclysmic events transformed the planet from a watery world to a hostile one; scientists believe life will find a way to continue despite the setbacks.

star 7.97
61 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Did a Black Hole Build the Milky Way?

#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?

star 7.97
91 votes
Buy on iTunes
Planets from Hell

#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?

star 7.95
99 votes
Directors: Kate Dart
Writers:
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
The Quasar Enigma

#20 - The Quasar Enigma

Season 6 - Episode 7

Quasars are the brightest and most powerful objects in our universe, and though they have shaped the cosmos, they might ultimately destroy everything that exists.

star 7.95
39 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
War on Asteroids

#21 - War on Asteroids

Season 6 - Episode 9

Scientists are using cutting-edge technology to stop an asteroid apocalypse, and for the first time, mankind is closer than ever to keeping Earth safe from these killer space rocks.

star 7.94
33 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Strange Lives of Dwarf Planets

#22 - Strange Lives of Dwarf Planets

Season 6 - Episode 8

Our solar system is home to hundreds of strange, tiny worlds called dwarf planets, and new discoveries reveal the secrets of these mysterious places.

star 7.91
47 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Dawn of Life

#23 - Dawn of Life

Season 4 - Episode 5

Discovering how life on Earth came to be; the possibility that life on Earth come from another planet.

star 7.91
85 votes
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Comets - Frozen Wanderers

#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.

star 7.90
69 votes
Directors: Adam Warner
Writers:
Buy on iTunes
Is Saturn Alive?

#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.

star 7.90
88 votes
Buy on iTunes