The BEST Episodes of The Universe

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Network: History

From the planets to the stars and out to the edge of the unknown, history and science collide in this epic exploration of the Universe and its mysteries. It's a very old universe. Yet just 50 years since man first ventured into outer space, the heavens are yielding their greatest secrets. Robotic rovers give us eyes on the red rock of Mars--NASA probes slam into comets at hyper speed--deep-space telescopes capture violent images of the birth of stars and their collapse into black holes. All have significantly changed the way we see ourselves. We wonder, is there anywhere else out there that that can support life? Episodes examine how discoveries were made and the scientists and explorers who dared to venture into the uncharted territory of the universe.

Omens of Doom

#1 - Omens of Doom

Season 9 - Episode 1 - Aired Apr 18, 2015

To our ancestors, the appearance of certain astronomical events meant something big and something bad was coming. They were portends of death, plague, famine, or war. But what were they really seeing? And how did fear of these objects in the sky actually change the course of history?

star 8.44
84 votes
Cosmic Holes

#2 - Cosmic Holes

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Dec 4, 2007

We know black holes exist, and now scientists are trying to confirm that other holes lurk in hyperspace.

star 8.23
574 votes
Directors: Laura Verklan
Writers: Laura Verklan
Cosmic Apocalypse

#3 - Cosmic Apocalypse

Season 2 - Episode 18 - Aired Apr 29, 2008

The Universe as we know it is condemned to death. Space, matter and even time will one day cease to exist and there's nothing we can do about it. Harsh realities are revealed about the future of our Universe; it may collapse and burn or it might be gripped by a galactic ice age. Either of these scenarios might be a long way off. However, our Universe could suddenly be destroyed by a "random quantum fluctuation", a bubble of destruction that can obliterate the entire cosmos in the blink of an eye. No matter how it ends, life in our Universe is doomed.

star 8.20
329 votes
The Eye of God

#4 - The Eye of God

Season 9 - Episode 2 - Aired Apr 25, 2015

Could the strange shapes of the universe solve the mysteries that have haunted mankind since ancient times? Is the eye of God peering at us from the heavens? What is the strange hexagon at the pole of Saturn, or the face on the Moon? Each shape tells its own story of an object's origin, and how physical forces shaped the Universe, and each is a chapter in the greater saga of existence.

star 8.20
99 votes
Ride the Comet

#5 - Ride the Comet

Season 7 - Episode 6 - Aired Jun 10, 2012

Board a virtual space ship to travel along with a variety of comets; long and short period, sun grazers, comets masquerading as asteroids and comets still in deep freeze in the Oort cloud. Then ride along on the NASA probes that visited nearby comets.

star 8.10
241 votes
Another Earth

#6 - Another Earth

Season 3 - Episode 9 - Aired Jan 13, 2009

Could we be unique in the universe or is there another planet similar to earth somewhere in the cosmos? Is it possible that Alpha Centauri, our nearest star, is home to another earth-like planet? Earth sized planets have been hard to find, but indirect methods are coming on line to give scientists a good survey of how many such bodies may be in the universe. How rare would it be to find life on another earth-like planet?

star 8.07
477 votes
Stonehenge

#7 - Stonehenge

Season 8 - Episode 1 - Aired Mar 1, 2014

Perhaps the most mysterious structure on Earth, Stonehenge has stood on a plain in Southern England for 5000 years. Why is it there? In this episode we explore the possibility that this was a prehistoric astronomical observatory. Here ancient astronomer priests may have divined the complex movements of the Sun and Moon, recognizing patterns that would not be discovered elsewhere for thousands of years. The primitive Shamans may have also been the first astronomers to predict eclipses.

star 8.06
146 votes
When Space Changed History

#8 - When Space Changed History

Season 7 - Episode 7 - Aired Jun 17, 2012

It may seem like seem like science fiction, but the cosmos isn't just something way out there. Many times in human history, objects or forces from space have changed the course of life on earth.

star 8.06
273 votes
Predicting the Future

#9 - Predicting the Future

Season 9 - Episode 5 - Aired May 16, 2015

Many believe that the celestial movement of the Sun, planets and moon gives us the blueprint for life, and governs our future. From Roman emperors, to kings and queens, to modern politicians, knowledgeable and powerful people have consulted an ancient system of predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. But is there proof that this system of tracking astronomical phenomena can actually predict our future?

star 7.97
70 votes
Dark Matter

#10 - Dark Matter

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Jan 15, 2008

Scientists have no idea what it is, but Dark Matter and Dark Energy make up 96% of the Universe. Dark Matter is everywhere. It passes through everything we know on earth at billions of particles every second, yet no one has ever gotten a direct detection of this mysterious dark substance. An even more bewildering force is Dark Energy, which is rapidly pushing apart our Universe. Discovered only ten years ago, scientists are struggling to comprehend its unusual characteristics and answer the ultimate question; what is the fate of our Universe?

star 7.97
411 votes
Mars: The New Evidence

#11 - Mars: The New Evidence

Season 5 - Episode 2 - Aired Aug 5, 2010

A look for evidence of life on Mars which provides many clues that it now, or once had supported it; from the remains of lakes and rivers that once flowed on the surface; to the water ice frozen at the poles; to the seasonal changes in methane gases that may prove bacterial life still thrives underground.

star 7.95
359 votes
Alien Worlds

#12 - Alien Worlds

Season 9 - Episode 4 - Aired May 9, 2015

The ancients believed that the universe consisted of countless worlds we could not see, and argued endlessly over the nature of these distant, invisible planets and whether they might be inhabited. Until recently many scientists thought we would never discover the truth, believing that extra-solar planets were simply too far, too small and too dim to detect. But new technologies have suddenly revealed thousands of distant planets, opening up the most exciting period in astronomy in decades. Some believe we're on the verge of answering the ancient question: are we alone in the universe?

star 7.92
76 votes
The Milky Way

#13 - The Milky Way

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 18, 2007

We used to think that Earth was at the center of the universe, but now we know we're not even at the center of our own galaxy. Countless wonders exist between where earth is situated and the massive black hole at the galactic center of our solar system. Within the Milky Way can be found the debris of old, dying stars fueling the birth of new stars and at the galactic center hypervelocity stars get catapulted clear beyond the Milky Way's outer rim at unimaginable speeds. Come along for a guided tour of 100,000 light-year-wide family of stars and stellar phenomena we call The Milky Way.

star 7.92
472 votes
Beyond the Big Bang

#14 - Beyond the Big Bang

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired Sep 4, 2007

The universe began with a massive expansion, billions and billions of years ago, and it continues to expand with every passing second. The idea that the universe, and man's very existence, began with a "Big Bang" is no longer a topic of debate among most scientists--it is essentially taken as fact.

star 7.91
530 votes
Directors: Luke Ellis
Writers: Matt Hickey
How the Solar System was Made

#15 - How the Solar System was Made

Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 8, 2011

At 4.6 billion years old, the Solar System is our solid, secure home in the Universe. But how did it come to be? In this episode we trace the system's birth from a thin cloud of dust and gas. Shocked by a nearby supernova, the pull of gravity and natural rotation spun it into a flat disc from which the Sun and planets coalesced. It all happened in the space of 700 million years, during which the planets jockeyed for position, dodging the brutal bombardment of deadly asteroids and setting into the neat, stable system that we now realize might be a rarity in the universe.

star 7.88
428 votes
Sex In Space

#16 - Sex In Space

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 2, 2008

As man moves to colonize the cosmos, the realities of sexual relationships and reproduction need to be addressed. Probe the physiological, psychological and cultural challenges of sex in space. From the sex act through birth, look at how the extreme environments of space exploration might effect copulation, conception and developing human tissues, as well as how issues around sex might impact the emotional lives of astronauts. Get to the bottom of the rumors to find out if space sex has already happened, and look at how the burgeoning space tourism business may soon lead to a boom in space sex.

star 7.88
382 votes
Pyramids

#17 - Pyramids

Season 8 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 8, 2014

The Great Pyramids of Giza remain one of the enduring wonders of the ancient world. These mesmerizing monuments have eluded astronomers and archeologists for centuries. Why and how were they built? Were they merely burial tombs, or a cosmic vehicle to the celestial world? The world's renowned Egyptologists, astronomers and engineers join forces to solve some of the long-held mysteries about the pyramids. What were the motives and methods behind the orientation of the pyramids to face the four cardinal directions with extreme accuracy? Did the ancient Egyptians use the sun or nighttime stars in the orientation of the pyramids? Were the pyramids the pharaohs' portal to the nighttime stars? Or was the entire Giza complex built as a place of cult worship to the sun?

star 7.86
170 votes
Catastrophes that Changed the Planets

#18 - Catastrophes that Changed the Planets

Season 6 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 25, 2011

The planets of our solar system have experienced epic catastrophes throughout their long history, both raining down from outside and bubbling up from within. We'll voyage back in time to investigate the violent events that profoundly shaped the planets, including earth itself. We'll witness stunning revelations about what transformed Mars into a barren, hostile desert...The disaster that changed Venus from temperate to hellish...The impact that blew away Mercury's mantle, turning it into a planetary core...A colossal disturbance that rearranged the orbits of the gas giants...Titanic impacts on Jupiter...And how a lost moon may finally explain Saturn's rings.

star 7.86
540 votes
Alien Planets

#19 - Alien Planets

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 27, 2007

Have planet hunters finally found proof of other Earthlike worlds? Astronomers have now discovered over two hundred alien worlds, beyond our solar system, that were unknown just a decade ago

star 7.86
509 votes
Writers: Douglas J. Cohen
Worst Days on Planet Earth

#20 - Worst Days on Planet Earth

Season 6 - Episode 5 - Aired Nov 29, 2011

Earth may seem like the most hospitable planet in the solar system. But look again. Startling new discoveries reveal the blue planet has been plagued by more chaos and destruction than scientists once imagined. Stand on the Earth billions of years ago as a primitive planet slams into it. Shiver as our entire globe is frozen over like a gigantic snowball. Feel the heat as mammoth volcanoes scorch the landscape and darken the sky. From a cosmic gamma ray burst frying away the ozone layer to an Everest-size asteroid slamming into the ocean, we'll reveal new information about how these unparalleled events drove life to the brink of total extinction. Out of this continuous devastation, how has our planet--and life--got to where it is today? Are the worst days behind us--or lurking in the distant future?

star 7.85
387 votes
Roman Engineering

#21 - Roman Engineering

Season 9 - Episode 6 - Aired May 23, 2015

Do Rome's ancient monuments have secret connections to the Sun? New archaeological evidence, confirmed by NASA data and recreated in state-of-the-art virtual reality, suggests that early Roman emperors mastered architecture and astronomy to make the Sun create strange special effects for reasons both political and personal. One set up an obelisk and altar that blocked the Sun on the anniversary of Julius Caesar's murder, another built a domed room that bathed him in sunlight on certain days, and the Emperor Hadrian designed the Pantheon to mark cosmic events like equinoxes, and turned the central "oculus" of the temple dome into his own personal spotlight, but for what nefarious purposes? We uncover the last great mysteries of the ancient world's greatest empire. The answers are hidden in ancient ruins...and among the stars.

star 7.84
62 votes
Star of Bethlehem

#22 - Star of Bethlehem

Season 8 - Episode 4 - Aired Mar 22, 2014

What was the astronomical reality behind the star that, according to the Gospel of Matthew, guided the Magi to the young Jesus? This episode examines almost 20 centuries of theories, including meteors, novae, supernovae and comets…but is the truth to be found in a combination of astronomy–and astrology? Recent theories suggest that the "star" was the planet Jupiter in a series of conjunctions with other planets, stars and constellations, and that these conjunctions were interpreted by the Magi–astrologers and priests of the Zoroastrian religion–as heralding the birth of the Jewish Messiah.

star 7.83
131 votes
Crash Landing on Mars

#23 - Crash Landing on Mars

Season 6 - Episode 4 - Aired Nov 22, 2011

What might happen if the first manned mission to Mars crashes hundreds of miles from the rocket that would take them back home? Could they survive the crash, and travel across the brutal Martian surface to their home ship? We'll show what the astronauts would have to do to survive dust storms and space radiation, while extracting vital resources like water from the Martian soil itself. It's a dramatic vision of the very near future, where survival can depend on pre-industrial technology and human ingenuity.

star 7.83
380 votes
Dark Future of the Sun

#24 - Dark Future of the Sun

Season 5 - Episode 8 - Aired Sep 23, 2010

A look at the grim future of our home star, the sun, and what might happen to it five billion years in the future. Also the results of the growing sun as it kills life, including humans, if they were still around.

star 7.79
352 votes
Constellations

#25 - Constellations

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired Feb 19, 2008

A constellation is a group of stars that are connected together to form a figure or picture. Explore some of the 88 official constellations and learn about some of the highlights of each.

star 7.78
416 votes