I don’t have a vast knowledge about astronomy. From time to time I find some interesting news to post at the astronomy category. I follow the top news of New Scientist, Popular Science, Scientific American and the fantastic pictures of Astronomy Picture of the Day. And that’s all.
I wasn’t part of the generation who watched Cosmos on TV. To be sincere, and his fans will have to forgive me, I just knew about Carl Sagan many years after his success to popularize science. And let me scare you a little more: I never watched the series or read his books (until now). However, before you start thinking of throwing some rocks on me, let me say something: I’m “fixing” this problem.
I started reading his last book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Partly because I’m curious and it was already on my shelf. But I had other reasons, for instance, it has beautiful images, it’s not only about astronomy, and he was a great writer. I don’t want to impugn its merits, no way, but I ‘d say it’s almost “astronomy for dummies”.
For a first specific contact with that area, it looks perfect to me, because it does the most important part, as all good books do, it gets your attention and keeps you interested. I’m reading a Portuguese edition, hardcover, published in 1996 that was a gift, and now it’s precious. This book is out of print in Brazil and I couldn’t find any other version of it. It seems that astronomy isn’t so popular in Brazil as I thought.
If I asked someone how should I have first contact with astronomy, that person would probably suggest me the book Cosmos or the TV series. And I said probably, because it is excellent, at least the bits I watched. As part of my plan to fix my lack of the knowledge in this area, I did a quick research about the “Cosmos” videos, since it isn’t available in DVD here. It was quick because, you know how those things are nowadays, the videos appear from nowhere, and these did.
My first impressions of Cosmos: amusing, interesting and it’s not only about astronomy. It’s also about history, culture, biology and about life. I also have to say that Carl Sagan’s voice was hypnotic. As far as I can tell, Sagan should have been a fantastic teacher, since the videos are very didactic and his introductions to every subject, captivating. And last, but not least, he already pointed out an important issue, specially nowadays: ecology.
The new age music presented in the episodes is a little too calm for my taste, but it perfectly fits them. If you have the chance to buy the DVD series, do it. Otherwise, take a look at the playlist I did, with all the episodes on-line, with Japanese subtitles. Of course, they won’t stay there forever, so start watching them now, or again if you already did, and then buy it.
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