Check It Out: Space Movies and TV Shows
What inspired some of the most influential and successful astronauts, space scientists, and space engineers? They all have different stories, and they all took different paths. But one thing they share is a lifelong awe for what lies beyond our atmosphere and their determination to know more about it.
You can get a dose of that awe by stepping outside on a clear night to look at the stars, or by visiting an observatory. But on a cloudy night when stargazing isn’t an option, what’s a budding astronomer to do? Check out this collection of movies and TV shows to transport you out of your room and into space!
*Also available as a book
The Martian* (2015, PG-13) An astronaut uses his knowledge to survive after being stranded alone on Mars. The Martian is applauded by space enthusiasts for its scientific accuracy. It boasts realistic technologies and extraterrestrial survival strategies that an astronaut might use in real life. Not surprising when you learn that its director consulted with NASA!
Interstellar* (2014, PG-13) Another movie praised for scientific accuracy and its grasp of theoretical astrophysics, Interstellar is set in a dystopian future. A group of Earth astronauts travels through a wormhole near Saturn to find a new home. The movie’s executive producer, Kip Thorne, is a theoretical physicist who wrote a book called The Science of Interstellar, in which he explains the movie’s concepts.
Hidden Figures* (2016, PG) This Oscar-nominated movie follows three Black female mathematicians as they rise through the ranks at NASA and, in doing so, break race and gender barriers. Hidden Figures is based on a true story. It will leave you in awe of the crucial mathematical work that goes into safely sending astronauts to space and bringing them back.
Apollo 13 (1995, PG) A must-see reenactment of the Apollo 13 mission. NASA races to save the Apollo 13 spacecraft and crew after an onboard explosion. This movie keeps you on the edge of your seat and gives you a historical perspective on the famous quote “Houston, we have a problem.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy* (2005, PG) This whimsical sci-fi fantasy is about a young man who escapes the destruction of Earth and takes an interstellar journey with his alien friend. The movie is not super scientific, but it introduces some great ways to think about classic space themes like the Big Bang, parallel universes, and alien life.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014, TV-PG) Presented by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, this miniseries illuminates the laws of space and time through space exploration. The episodes dive deep into concepts such as light, molecules, ghost worlds, and our expanding universe.
The Universe (2007–2015, TV-PG) With episodes titled “Total Eclipse,” “Deep Space Disasters,” and “Nemesis: The Sun’s Evil Twin,” this series runs the gamut of all that’s suspenseful in the cosmos. There are 62 episodes available, so you won’t run out of topics to explore anytime soon.