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Ancient Skies

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With CGI, landscape footage and some of the world's most important astronomical artifacts, this series looks at the universe through the eyes of our ancestors, and charts our changing views of the cosmos throughout history. We take a journey through past visions of the heavens from all over the world, from those of our earliest ancestors to the recent past. From hunter-gatherers to Edwin Hubble, we'll see the myriad of ways that we have observed and imagined the heavens, and explain the science behind the things our ancestors sought to explain through mythology.


  • Finding The Center

    Follow the efforts to give the Earth a shape and a place. From flat Earth legends to Galileo's telescope, track major changes in scientific understanding. Ideas rise and fall as we continue to explore our ancient skies.

    Length: 00:55:33
    Usage rights: 7/24/2019 to 7/23/2026
  • Gods and Monsters

    We uncover the story of our relationship with the skies from our earliest ancestors, through to the birth of the science of astronomy. Our story begins with one of the earliest known creation myths - the Babylonian Enuma Elish. With spectacular CGI animation, we see the clash of the gods Marduk and Tiamat that the Babylonians believed gave birth to the earth and the sky. In this episode we visit the caves of El Castillo in Northern Spain. Deep inside the caves we see some of the earliest cave paintings in the world. Astronomer Phil Plait shows us how the skies could be used to navigate and tell the time, either by observing the phases of the moon, or by tracking the movements of the sun across the horizon. We look at Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza and see that, as our earliest civilisations developed, we built monuments that enabled us to observe the skies and worship them. We visit Ancient Greece, where the great storytellers Hesiod and Homer were populating the world with gods and monsters. That is until the first philosophers started to look at the world not in terms of individual events that showed the actions of living gods in the sky, but as phenomena that were all part of the patterns of the natural world. As philosophy and early science start to reshape the world from mythological to rational, we are on the cusp of a revolution that gave birth to modern science.

    Length: 00:55:35
    Usage rights: 7/24/2019 to 7/23/2026
  • Our Place in the Universe

    Complete the puzzle of our ancient skies. A cast of scientific pioneers reshapes the solar system and better understands a growing universe. But there is still much more space to explore.

    Length: 00:54:58
    Usage rights: 7/24/2019 to 7/23/2026