Why should you watch these extraordinary astronomy documentaries? They offer a chance to embark on an unforgettable journey through the cosmos without ever leaving the comfort of your living room.
From exploring the planets of our solar system to delving into the mysteries of black holes, these astronomy documentaries bring the marvels of space closer than ever before, offering a front-row seat to extraordinary cosmic phenomena.
So here’s our list of the top astronomy documentaries.
At a Glance: Best Astronomy Documentaries
Watching astronomy documentaries expands your knowledge, ignites your imagination, and deepens your appreciation for the vast wonders of the universe.
Best Astronomy Documentaries
Astronomy is the study of the vastness of space and celestial objects. It offers a glimpse into our universe’s beauty, scale, and mysteries, captivating and inspiring people of all backgrounds. And these astronomy documentaries inspire the best in us.
What we love best about Mission Control is that it tells the stories of Apollo’s unsung heroes. However, while the director adds women into the modern-day mix of scientists, physicists, and engineers, most of the original Mission Control were white males. It seems a bit like an apology, but times were indeed different then.
This group of engineers came from rural lifestyles, blue-collar families, college kids, and military veterans. But they all worked together to put a man on the Moon. Seeing these men talk about their time at Mission Control is the thrust of this astronomy documentary. They are proud of their work, and it shows.
Once the Space Race fully formed, these men had a purpose, and viewers enjoy hearing about it. They soberly discuss the Apollo I fire and how the deaths of three men influenced how Mission Control moved forward. What an insightful view of NASA in the 1960s.
This astronomy documentary tries to capture the Apollo mission’s pioneer spirit by telling the story of astronaut Gene Cernan. He was the last person to step foot on the Moon in December 1972, leaving his daughter’s initials and his footprints behind.
Cernan is a public speaker and excellent storyteller, so he keeps the audience entertained with stories of astronaut parties, mission politics, and family stresses. The storyline is about human success and loss, just as much as it’s about a trip to the moon. So that makes it a little different from other space documentaries.
Interviews with Cernan’s ex-wife and best friend help viewers understand the complexity of juggling regular life and astronaut dreams. It is a thought-provoking look at career versus family and exploring the Apollo missions that lead Cernan to the Moon.
In just under an hour, cosmologist Brian Thomas Swimme recounts our solar system’s creation from the big bang to today. Then, he talks about evolution, space, and humans impacting Earth.
The film uses artwork and telescope imagery to show how humans hurt our planet and ourselves. And he suggests actions to reverse the damage. This epic astronomy documentary uses science to explore the universe’s evolution and the intricate connectivity of life.
Journey of the Universe presents information clearly but with a thought-provoking lean. It urges viewers to consider the meaning beyond the scientific data. The award-winning filmmakers gathered renowned scholars and scientists to present information clearly.
Of course, seeing this astronomy documentary in an IMAX theater dwarfs seeing it at home on your television. But the celestial grandeur the movie holds is impressive nonetheless.
Viewing this documentary is as close as most humans will get to an outer space journey. And the space shuttle Atlantis crew might as well be in your living room. It seems like you’re so much a part of their May 2009 ride to give the Hubble telescope a tuneup.
The crew seems relaxed and cheerful before the spacewalk Hubble repair. And that makes their task seem almost normal. Until you remember that if one of them drops a wrench, it will sail through space for millennia.
The imagery of this film is positively breathtaking. First, you’ll feel tiny watching Hubble zoom past the Orion Nebula, a stellar nursery. Then the film whisks you past the Milky Way to our closest galactic neighbor, Andromeda. And finally, the audience gets views of the Virgo Cluster, where 2,000 galaxies reside.
It’s a thrilling ride that benefits from the narration of Leonardo DiCaprio. However, not all viewers agree that he is the best choice of narrator. And that’s okay because you’re so busy examining the celestial objects that you almost forget someone is talking.
Speaking of narrators, Jennifer Lawrence lends her voice to this next astronomy documentary. A Beautiful Planet takes a close look at Earth from outer space! Another IMAX original film, made in conjunction with NASA, delivers stunning views of Earth from astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS).
We enjoyed the ISS visuals; seeing the crew and spacecraft was a bonus. However, since most of us will never make it to space, astronomy documentaries like this are our best hope of seeing these views.
NASA used 4K cameras attached explicitly to the ISS to make this IMAX documentary. Seeing hundreds of lightning storms on Earth from space is a wildly crazy thing that brings you to the edge of your seat. But, like many other astronomy films, the imagery sometimes catches you off guard with its awesomeness.
Best Astronomy Documentaries: Final Thoughts
Astronomy documentaries provide a wealth of knowledge, presented in a way that is accessible, entertaining, and engaging. They introduce complex concepts such as gravity, space-time, and the birth of stars, breaking them into easily digestible pieces that delight viewers.
These films inspire questions and foster critical thinking, encouraging us to ponder the universe’s mysteries and seek answers to the big questions that have captivated astronomers and scientists for centuries. Watch one of these shows tonight!