The BEST Episodes of How the Universe Works

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2019

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.

The Interstellar Mysteries

#1 - The Interstellar Mysteries

Season 7 - Episode 3

Interstellar space is the space between the universe's stars and new discoveries reveal that it's not empty and unremarkable as previously thought, but filled with weird objects and strange phenomena that might hold the darkest secrets of our cosmos.

star 8.42
31 votes
Supernovas

#2 - 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 8.27
136 votes
Directors: Shaun Trevisick
Writers:
Black Holes

#3 - 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 8.24
231 votes
Directors: Peter Chinn
Writers:
Stars

#4 - 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 8.21
187 votes
Directors: Peter Chinn
Writers:
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 8.19
318 votes
Directors: Louise Say
Writers:
Hunt for Alien Life

#6 - Hunt for Alien Life

Season 7 - Episode 8

The latest discoveries suggest life beyond this planet; scientists investigate if earth's life began elsewhere in the universe, and whether humans need to evolve to know for sure.

star 8.19
27 votes
Did the Big Bang Really Happen?

#7 - Did the Big Bang Really Happen?

Season 7 - Episode 6

New discoveries are causing astronomers to question if the Big Bang really happened, and using the latest science, they investigate if it wasn't just the start of our universe but many mysterious multiverses.

star 8.18
33 votes
Galaxies

#8 - 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 8.17
212 votes
Directors: Louise Say
Writers:
When Supernovas Strike

#9 - When Supernovas Strike

Season 7 - Episode 2

Supernovas are the violent death of giant stars, and new discoveries reveal that these cataclysmic events create the elements that are essential to all life in the universe.

star 8.16
37 votes
Birth of the Earth

#10 - 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 8.15
90 votes
Directors: George Harris
Writers:
Battle of the Dark Universe

#11 - Battle of the Dark Universe

Season 7 - Episode 7

Dark matter and dark energy are locked in an epic battle for control of the cosmos, and the winner will determine the fate of the universe. New discoveries might reveal which force will emerge victorious.

star 8.15
26 votes
Planets

#12 - 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 8.15
153 votes
Directors: Lorne Townend
Writers:
Secret World of Nebulas

#13 - Secret World of Nebulas

Season 7 - Episode 5

Nebulas are the strange structures of cosmic gas and dust where stars are born and die, and new discoveries reveal the secrets of these mysterious places.

star 8.12
34 votes
Stars That Kill

#14 - 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 8.11
80 votes
Asteroids - Worlds that Never Were

#15 - 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 8.09
67 votes
Directors: George Harris
Writers:
Solar Systems

#16 - 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 8.09
139 votes
Directors: Lorne Townend
Writers:
Mystery of Spacetime

#17 - 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 8.07
42 votes
Cassini's Final Secrets

#18 - Cassini's Final Secrets

Season 7 - Episode 10

For twenty years, NASA's Cassini spacecraft revealed the strange secrets of Saturn until it vaporized in its atmosphere in a blaze of glory. But today its legacy lives on, as fresh data from the probe helps scientists make brand-new discoveries.

star 8.07
29 votes
Moons

#19 - 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 8.06
131 votes
Directors: Shaun Trevisick
Writers:
Jupiter: Destroyer or Savior?

#20 - 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 8.05
101 votes
Extreme Orbits - Clockwork and Creation

#21 - 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 8.04
96 votes
Directors: Adam Warner
Writers:
How Black Holes Made Us

#22 - How Black Holes Made Us

Season 7 - Episode 4

Black holes are not the violent monsters people think they are, and new discoveries reveal that they might have been essential to creating stars, giving light, and building the universe itself.

star 8.03
34 votes
Planets from Hell

#23 - 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 8.01
107 votes
Directors: Kate Dart
Writers:
Our Voyage to the Stars

#24 - 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 8.01
96 votes
Life & Death on the Red Planet

#25 - 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 8.00
67 votes