Monday, 22 March 2010

Wonders of the Solar System BBC

I've just finished watching the third episode of Wonders of the Solar system, a factual program presented by Professor Brian Cox. I'm writing about it here because I'm impressed by how inspiring and easy to digest he makes the content, I have always had a particular fascination with our solar system and was lucky enough to actually see it in its full colours on the Norfolk broads over christmas 2009, a thick band streaming across the centre of the sky containing red, yellow, blue and white stars, far different from the usual view due to light pollution from towns and cities. Like Brian says in episode 2 of the series "you know, from a modern perspective, astronomy can seem remote and arcane, because we've lost our connection with the night sky, from a city you just don't see a sky look anything like this".

In the third episode Brian explains how the atmosphere of a planet or moon can shape its surface, and that Saturn's moon Titan has one much like our own. Though far denser and thousands of miles higher it is able to to support a methano-logical cycle, where methane can exist as ice, water and gas just like hydrogen here on earth. Due to the low gravity and dense atmosphere the methane would fall as thick blobs of water very slowly like snow does here. It's this constant cycle that creates ice sheets, rivers, canyons and rain shaping the surface of Titan to resemble that of Earth.

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