Seeing Stars

Seeing Stars

2011, Science  -   93 Comments
Ratings: 7.89/10 from 27 users.

Seeing StarsAround the world, a new generation of astronomers are hunting for the most mysterious objects in the universe. Young stars, black holes, even other forms of life.

They have created a dazzling new set of super-telescopes that promise to rewrite the story of the heavens.

This film follows the men and women who are pushing the limits of science and engineering in some of the most extreme environments on earth. But most strikingly of all, no-one really knows what they will find out there.

More great documentaries

93 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jay

    Loved the doc, but was astounded by the claim at 42:30 that "our nearest galactic neighbor" was Centaurus A. This is incorrect. Our nearest galactic neighbor is Andromeda Galaxy at 2.5 million light years away. (Not counting the Magellanic clouds)

  2. U2

    what they are really hunting for is another grant to float their do nothing lifestyle.

  3. BeardHero420


  4. astromann

    Interesting documentary until they got to the part about the moon landings. How any sane common sense person can still believe in that NASA lie is beyond me. Science needs to get it's house into order before it can reclaim credibility . I am conspiracy proponent because that is how this how the US administration, NASA and CIA have been able to propagate this rubbish for over 40 years. We haven't been 'back' though have we? QED.

    1. Achems_Razor

      @astromann, Wrong, check Reuters news service for the latest photos of the manned moon landing sites, foot prints etc: from 13 miles up from the moon.

    2. Jane Doe

      How any sane common sense person can still not believe the evidence of the moon landings is beyond me.

  5. donjusko

    I don't think the Van Allen Belt was explained correctly. That's a lot when conceder how much we spent on Cosmic rays. As I remember it was flecks of light outside the cabin and nothing was said about seeing them with the eyes closed. I believe the happening occurred just below the ionosphere in Tesla's Shuman Cavity which we later called the Van Allen's Belt.

    Tesla's principle is the foundation of HAARP, it's feeding electricity to the Shuman Cavity. Bernard Eastlund of Columbia Physics (PTI) patented it for defenses, HAARP is using it to modify the weather and vibrating specific targets.

    1. Yi Wen Qian

      Lol, HAARP, the moby dick of conspiracy theories.

    2. Jack1952

      HAARP. Earthquake, tsunami, and weather maker. That Katrina thing was quite the gaffe. They should take better aim next time.

    3. Yi Wen Qian

      Yeah, missed the white house. :P

  6. Dominic

    The Human mind is too small to ever know the origin or size of the universe. Everytime we think we have reached the edge there will always be something beyond it compelling us to keep chasing forever. The answer to one mystery will always open questions to another one.

  7. Guest

    @ The Mighty Achem, Your lesson yesterday must have had some impact as I had very disturbed dreams last night and woke early with an idea that I should spend some time in the science category for a while and PAY ATTENTION.

  8. KsDevil

    The Universe is huge. I mean really huge. You can't imagine just how vastly huge it is. Walking down to the chemists may seem like a long way, but that's just peanuts to the size of the Universe.
    On the subject of light. Carl Sagan has explained the headlight question in one of the Cosmos episodes. Of course that was well before the recent experiements that suggests the speed of light is not what we think it is.
    We live in interesting times. The amount of knowledge we are gaining about the Universe every year is astounding. All of this and we are still stuck on this modest blue planet. What awaits us when we finally do get out there?

    1. Guest

      Douglas Adams!

    2. Yi Wen Qian

      The recent event has been resolved btw, it turned out to be equipment inaccuracy.

  9. John Pham

    mankind can*

  10. John Pham

    the cosmo is like a woman, mankind and work at it for ages but it will never be define or "figured out" that doesn't mean we stop trying to hit the "spot" LOL

  11. European Art

    This program shows the enthusiasm of scientists searching for a Black Hole at the middle of our galaxy. I used to believe this but now have changed my mind. There is NOT a super massive Black Hole at the middle of our galaxy, nor in the middle of any other galaxies. Why do I say this? 1) If there was a supper massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy it would be consuming our galaxy like water flows down a sink drain. This is NOT happening. Therefore there is not a Black Hole at the middle of our galaxy. 2) If there was a supper massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy the stars would spin faster at the center of the galaxy and slower further out. This is the conservation of momenturm. This observation is NOT supported. Stars spin at the same speed in the center of the galaxy as they do on the outer perimeter, therefore a super massive black hole does NOT exist in the middle of our galaxy. Therefore based on basic knowledge these scientists are wasting their time looking for something that is not there.

    1. Achems_Razor

      Would like to see your sources, or peer reviewed papers stating there is no black hole at centre of our galaxy, your basic knowledge means nothing, not supported. Concerning the time and resources spent on formulating this peer reviewed theory by major scientists it is not in error and is supported.

    2. UniversalCypher

      i could be wrong, but i believe you've mistaken the speed of spinning stars at the center of the galaxy for the inner galaxy. i believe the comparison of speed doesnt affect the stars at all. the stars could be freely whipping around at high speeds near the center, in an inner part of the galaxy that is in a fixed rotation with the outer part of the galaxy. i also believe the time it takes a super massive black hole to consume a galaxy is much longer than water flowing down a sink drain. we're talking about a cosmic structure that is 100,000 light years across, and filled with 200+ billion stars. if such were the physics of black holes, then we might as well toss out the theory of them existing at all, since they would have swallowed up the entire universe by now; at a sink drain's pace. i remember hearing something about the speed of matter rotating around a black hole outside of the event horizon. i'll just leave it at that..

    3. Guest

      I believe if enough people believe a black hole is, a black hole will be, but if enough people believe no black hole is then no black hole will be.
      WE create our reality, our reality is what we believe it to be if enough of us believe it.

    4. Rocky Racoon

      That is what Forrest Gump's mother told him more or less it all depends on your attitude right?

    5. Guest

      I heard a scientist say: "if we can think it, it must exist somewhere" or somethiing close to that...i am trying to find where from, it was on a doc not long ago.

    6. Guest

      Astrophysicist Sarah Seager says: "everything we can imagine will exist somewhere" at 22:11 on the latest wormhole What Do Aliens Look Like.

    7. Anthony Pirtle

      Stars orbit black holes without being consumed just like they orbit any other source of gravity.

    8. Guest

      Right on. And, anyway, I'm pretty sure they would have to have crossed the Event Horizon, which is different, in terms of it's location, for every black hole, according to it's size, before they could actually be sucked into it.

  12. Alan Baca

    and this is only a minut beginning. Like cavemen looking at the stars we are looking at the universe and wondering, wondering, wondering

    1. Stardust

      true, true...

  13. Guest

    Here's a question one of my kids asked, not sure if she heard it somewhere or thought it up herself. If you were in a car and travelling at light speed, would you see the headlights when you turned them on. Any Idea'?

    1. Guest

      No, you wouldn't. I'm pretty sure things would appear to be motionless from that perspective, but Achems can answer this better than I can.

    2. Guest

      If you were travelling at the speed of light, my guess is that you would be a ball of fire (light) and would not see other light, they would all merge with you.
      If you were travelling at the speed of energy, you wouldn't be physical, that's why i say we are not physical, i am energy.
      Physicallity is something we hold together as a group.

    3. magarac

      Watch the Sixty Symbols episode c. Only about 5 minutes but still some good information.

    4. Guest

      I've watched that a few times now, I love it but I think I love it because I get caught up in their excitement. Will definitely catch it again though.

    5. magarac

      They truly are people who love their job there is no doubt about that.
      They even mentioned part of these things you asked on c+.

    6. Guest

      Going to have to dive back in there if only to find a better way to ask what I want to know. That's Saturday sorted then!

    7. Guest

      I'm going to curl up and watch that one late tonight when the house is quiet, since I've heard you guys saying such good things about it!

    8. Guest

      I heard the exact same question this morning on Sixty Symbols, second window down ....third or fourth question...and there are opinions given.

    9. Guest

      Yay! I'll get her to watch it with me, maybe that's where she heard it . I usually have to watch things a few times as I miss bits when the sewing machine rattles, She must have caught some of the stuff I missed. Cheers Azilda x

    10. Achems_Razor

      50 4 40,

      This might help your Dtr with the headlight question...Special Relativity incorporates that the speed of light is the same for all inertial observers regardless of the state of motion of the source.

  14. Achems_Razor

    Okay, youse guyses, won't be long now before the powers that be will say these posts are becoming idle chit-chat, lets talk about cosmology, space, the stars, and anything else that is relevant to this doc. What do you all say, Eh?

    1. Guest

      like the one in "Don't Talk About The Weather"?
      I agree, let's stay on topic.

  15. Guest

    Its difficult to appreciate just how incredible the universe is. Kind of like seeing a picture of a whale without a little diagram man standing by it or when your a kid and trying to imagine how big a million is when you can only count to a hundred. Without some kind of comparison it hard to imagine the scale. I can get a feeling of infinity but I cant comprehend it. When I was little I used to cry with frustration trying to imagine that, also trying to understand where that infinity exists, surely it has to be in something? I understand better now but I still have a childlike suspicion that the universe has an end and that there is something else after that. And then what comes after that, is that infinite as well? I think my brain just melted!

    1. Achems_Razor

      @fifty 4fourty:

      You brain just melted? I will get it past the point of no return, lol
      Don't know if the universe has an end and more after that, but according to all the science in progress we may live in a mutiverse, one of 10^500 other universes, and then 10^500 universes in each of the following multiverses. Quilted...Inflationary...Brane...Cyclic...landscape...Quantum...Holographic...Simulated...Ultimate.

    2. Guest

      Do I have to pick one or can I have them all? I try to keep up with this stuff by reading science magazines but they keep changing their minds. I enjoy the sense of awe, staring into space and thinking those things, feeling teeny tiny and fantastically lucky to be here. If I can only pick one I'll have Quilted, I've made a few quilts so we have an affinity :)

    3. Guest

      Well, then, I guess I'll have to take Inflationary, because at the slightest provocation I tend to get...expansive. (lol)

      A trick I use for getting to sleep at night is to imagine myself alone in a very small, very futuristic spacecraft, with everything on it I need to survive, including a single companion, on a journey to these stars and away from all the troubles of this planet.

      I love a cold night, and a very clear sky in the country (preferably with the sound of running water nearby). That is married to my "soul" in a way that is useless to explain in words. At a time like that, I feel both small and huge.

    4. Guest

      yourself alone, who's the single companion, your big Self?

    5. Guest

      No, anything but... The companion is the perfect woman, of course.

      By the way, YOU misspelled the word alcohol earlier, lol.

    6. Guest

      That translating brain has failed me again.
      Perfect woman? We cannot have a perfect other, hard enough to be perfect ourself.

    7. Guest

      But in our imaginations, Az...
      (And as you were pointing out my error, I was just teasing you in turn about the misspelling, Miss Pelling. Because other than that...)

    8. Guest

      After all this time, you still don't quite comprehend my hum our!

    9. Guest

      Well, maybe...
      I do get the "Self" ref now, I think.
      How could I have missed it?! You put it right in my lap, for heaven's sake.

    10. Guest

      Are you calling me Miss Pelled? lol
      The frustrating experience of pedestrian traffic being slowed to a crawl by the elderly. Most commonly used in supermarket aisles, narrow sidewalks, and amusement park walkways.


    11. Guest

      Like the ship from Contact? Brilliant book.

    12. Guest

      Read it twice. Underrated film, too. Not enough GORE and GREEN PEOPLE for a modern audience, I think.

    13. Guest

      I'm always disappointed when they wheel out the space monsters, they never seem to have hands that would be any real use. Humans have a useful shape, I like to think Aliens would be more or less like us. And yes, love the film too.

    14. Achems_Razor

      Yes, the light from your headlights would be seen and still going the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second from the source, no matter what your speed is at that time. But, if you were travelling at light speed, time would stand still, no time, and at that speed you would become an infinite singularity/infinite mass. Therefore nothing can go the speed of light, that is anything resting, as in matter. But there may be faster than speed of C as to the latest experiments.

    15. Guest

      And if they can go faster than C, then they can't go slower than C. Otherwise, that would just be a big turd in the whole punchbowl, as far as information goes. lol.

    16. Guest

      Thank-you, not sure I understand though. Not sure how to ask the next bit so bare with me please. Would the source be the place in time that you turned the lights on, or is the source in front of you as you travel? How is it that only light can travel at the speed of light, if time stands still why doesn't light also? Isn't light matter? If I'm asking silly questions just say,it's ok :)

    17. Guest

      i like your questions, especially if they are inspired by a child.
      Those little buggers are sooooo smart and the joy is that they don't even know it yet.

    18. Guest

      The only thing faster than the new thing that's faster than light, A kids power to flummox its parents! She made me e.mail Stephen Hawking, no reply though as he's so busy.

    19. Guest

      The dear man may still be working on his answer!
      ( I really had suspicions that I might have a decent enough mind, until I had kids. Now I know better, both, because of them, and because I had them, lol. )

    20. Guest

      Haha, I know what you mean. Sometimes I wonder why I come to this site. I should put Bob the Builder on instead and accept defeat!

    21. Guest

      Did you tell him the question came from a kid? That should inspire a guy like him. Busy...yes he is...but he sure seem like he would have extra time on his hands.
      Try again, send a picture of her with it.
      He will answer...i promise...i bet!

    22. Guest

      No I didn't, Your probably right though and I will try again. I'll let you know if it works. It would make a great addition to my 'in case I die unexpectedly' diary too :)

    23. Guest

      Photons have zero mass, so that rule doesn't apply to them, which is why anything makes any sense at all, since light is the carrier of information.
      I'm not sure I understand the first question.

    24. Guest

      Achems razor said 'Yes, the light from your headlights would be seen and still going the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second from the source, no matter what your speed is at that time.'
      ... maybe I should just go with the easy answer, 'yes-sort of'
      no worries, see below :)

    25. Achems_Razor

      @50 4 40

      What I mean by the source is like a turned on flashlight, lamp, anything that generates light, when you turn on the light, even though you could be travelling up to the speed of C "your light from your source," flashlight, et al. would still travel at 186,000 miles per second.

      And at the perspective of a photon, there is light but no movement, no time, the faster a person goes the slower the time, and again a but, the time only slows to the observer observing the person that is travelling at that speed, time seems to the observer to be slowing down to the one travelling, but to the one that is travelling time would be as normal to the traveller.

      No, light is not matter, there is no resting mass in a photon.

    26. Guest

      OH! And the lights go on! So anything faster than a photon is a time traveller? Hope I've got that right, your explanation was clear enough but my mind might be a little foggy.

      edit- Brain Light....Fail :(

    27. Achems_Razor

      No, not really, anything that goes fast, even our rockets are time travellers, our GPS system is a time traveller, google "time dilation" also.

    28. Guest

      'You brain just melted? I will get it past the point of no return, lol'
      I thought you were joking :)

    29. Guest

      I keep postponing reading that book, the film was good, i bet the book is better.

    30. Guest

      It is, but they were pretty faithful to it in the film, for a change. In the book, however, there's a mystery hidden deep in the number pi that isn't covered in the film that would probably be especially fascinating to you, with your propensity for looking INTO things, instead of merely AT them.

    31. Guest

      It is officially now at the top in my bucket list.

    32. Guest

      may be the end is a mirror "kind of thing".

    33. Achems_Razor


      Then your multiverse of choice is "Holographic Multiverse"

    34. Guest

      Is that what you would call a singularity that looks at it's Self that looks at it's selves?

    35. Achems_Razor


      Would call it a "narcissistic" singularity.

    36. Guest

      as i say:
      Self importance doesn't hurt anyone
      Immerse your Self in yourself....
      you may find a thing or two that are different from the rest.

    37. Guest

      Some might interpret that as the Anthropocentric view of the universe, minus everyone else! And including everyone else! It's fun to watch her think, isn't it?!

  16. 46nTwo

    I have not seen this doc yet but I would like to put my 2 cents in on the whole singularity idea. I feel that the past and the future can not be changed. The "in the now" is the change; the singularity. We are all apart of this. The past is forever infinite (meaning that info form the past is forever, and the way it makes you feel is infinite). The "in the now" is the pages of history; the future does not change the past and vice versa. The "in the now" is the only thing that is the singularity.

    sorry if this doesn't make sense, i',m kinda drunk :)

    1. Guest

      May be if you had smoked a doobie you would make a lot more sense. Alcool shrinks your mind while pot seem to expand it.

  17. Sion88

    It is difficult to conceive how anything could be at all if there was not a force of contraction at varying scales at the core of every unit of stuff. Expansion goes with contraction, obviously one can not be if the other is not. So must the thing that facilitates contraction be omnipresent in quanta. Very possibly it should be the same thing that brings upon expansion at the precise moment when all things have converged into singularity.

    Of course, the standing observation is that all stuff seems to be expanding ever faster away from the point of observation and therefore there is no contraction in the ultimate sense. This however does not necessarily have to be the case if it is considered that the all entities are moving away from a central point and that this movement is becoming varyingly slower depending on the distance of a particular entity from the central point. The central point here would be the point of ultimate contraction.

    Consider the point of observation at a location between the entities being observed and offset from the central point. Those entities that are closer to the central point in relation to the point of observation could be slowing more quickly than the point of observation itself and thereby for all intents and purposes moving away with increasing velocity from the point of observation. In turn, those entities that are farther could be slowing at a lesser rate and again in the absolute sense moving away with increasing velocity from the point of observation. If this were so, the movement should eventually reverse.

    The above of course does not work if the force of contraction is spatially and temporally constant. It may not be, considering that at a certain distance from the central point, objects should already be converging towards it. The force should then be increasing gradually with the increase of mass. Or it could be that due to a lack of elementary understanding, the above is a misconception.

    1. Irishkev

      Elementary, my dear Watson. Hold on whilst I jack myself up.

  18. magarac

    What a beautiful desert the atacama is. Guess i´ll have to go there and see it for myself...

  19. Guest

    @Jack 1952
    There has always been evidence of this in my life or mind, even as a very young child dreaming. I used to dream that i was in a rounded box and my Self was like dough, rising to a point of almost exploding the box and then diminishing to a infinitely small particle within the box and back to rising......
    It would wake me up in fear, now i enjoy it whenever it happens.

  20. Guest

    If they were to find a black hole could it be that there is only one and that everything else surrounds it, earth included?
    Or could it be that the black hole is like the skin of a body, surrounding everything we see, therefore a black hole is not in the middle but on the edge of life itself?

    1. BuzzBeak

      There are most likely billions, considering there's a super massive one in the centre of every galaxy, I can't even begin to fathom how your second question would work, but what's outside the edge of the universe is anyone's guess!

    2. Jason

      Very good question, Azilda I like you a bunch ;)

    3. Guest

      I like your shows that nature is at the forefront in your life. Thank you.

    4. Henri van Schijndel

      So we are living in a singularity?

    5. Jack1952

      @ Henri van Schijndel

      That would imply that we are living inside a singularity and looking for a singularity that exists inside of it just as we do. It would indicate a universe that becomes infinitely bigger and smaller and we are living in one stage of that universe of infinity. I'm not to sure there is any evidence for this.

    6. Henri van Schijndel

      Haha, you are right. But i like the term: singularity......It's a scientific way to say: "we don't know...".

    7. Guest

      i certainly am a singularity