The Milky Way

The Universe
Season 2
18 episodes
See below for purchasing options
DVD & Blu-ray
"The Universe" episode no. 18 (season 2)
  • written by Steve Zorn
  • additional writing by producer Brittany Graham
    (no on-screen director credit)
  • edited by Kevin Browne
  • science consultants Alex Filippenko & Michelle Thaller

  • narrated by Erik Thompson
  • Original Music by Eric Amdahl
  • Flight 33 Productions, (c) 2007 A & E TV Networks
  • 1 documentary @ 44 minutes

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak

This episode is a fascinating look at the geography of our galaxy, how we are hindered at seeing it properly or directly, and the history of the methods employed to learn about it.

Our own solar system takes about 250 million years to orbit the center of the galaxy, and has only done so approximately 18 times since it formed.

The star Mira A is leaving a wake of hot gas behind it as it plows through the dust of one of the Milky Way's arms, a tell-tale trail of where it has been for the last 30,000 years in its orbit around the galactic center.

Other highlights include the Sagittarius A object - thought to be a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, how galaxies evolve and change shape when interacting with each other and the Milky Way's associations with small, local group galaxies such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds which also orbit the Milky Way from a safe distance.

The most memorable moment of the episode that blew my mind (and a definite season two highlight) was the bombshell dropped by astronomer Michelle Thaller:
"Just recently, we've discovered that there are two small galaxies colliding with the Milky Way right now, and the only reason we didn't know they were there is because there was so much dust in the disc of our galaxy, we couldn't see them. We're living inside this cloud, and it's something we're not aware of. But with infrared light, you can cut through that dust. And the minute we turned infrared telescopes to the sky, we saw these little galaxies up there, coming right at us."

from the disc sleeve:

The Milky Way:
Come along, Pond, for a guided tour of the 100,000-light-year-wide family of stars and stellar phenomena we call the Milky Way. Within this galaxy explore the debris of old, dying stars fueling the birth of new stars, while hypervelocity stars get catapulted beyond the Milky Way's outer rim at unimaginable speeds.

Okay, I lie - the disc sleeve doesn't actually say "Pond", but Michio Kaku isn't alone here in being a Doctor Who fan. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

Chapter List:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Neighbourhood
  3. Technology
  4. Gas and Dust
  5. Gravity
  6. Expansion

Participants include:

Michelle Thaller

Astronomer, NASA / CALTECH

Alex Filippenko

University of California, Berkeley

leads a team that has found over 600 supernovae in one decade through automated intergalactic scanning.

Mark Morris

University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Roy Britt

Susan Stolovy

Astronomer, NASA / CALTECH

Warren Brown


This documentary has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
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The Universe
Season 2 Box Set
18 episodes




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Blu-ray Canada

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Read the data capsule review for the next episode: "Alien Moons"

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