September 29, 2008
Time for another episode of the excellent documentary series The Planets, this time on the Sun. Titled Star, the episode captures the magnitude of several “Eureka!” moments, as when Angelo Secchi, the Vatican’s chief astronomer, realised the blinding disc in the daytime sky is another one of those points that twinkle at night. As with previous episodes, there’s plenty of rare footage and some interesting characters, not least Kristian Birkeland, who created laboratory auroras while wearing a fez to protect his brain from radiation.
Splitting light. Secchi’s discovery. A makeshift umbrella. Twisted magnetism.
Artificial auroras. Comets and clues. Force field. Heliopause. The stuff of life.
Related: Astronomical Odds, Craters, Freefall. (h/t, The Thin Man.)