Get ready to explore the final frontier as we take a look at 11 best space documentaries on Netflix streaming in 2015.
Space has always captured human imagination. Until quite recently in our history, we lacked the means to start truly exploring it. It wasn’t until Yuri Gagarin that we, as a race, could start exploring our solar neighborhood in earnest. Then came the Apollo program and humans successfully landed on another celestial body. The interest in space gave birth to science fiction movies and shows, giving us such gems like Star Trek and Star Wars. Documentaries about space soon followed. But it wasn’t until the 1980s and Cosmos: A Personal Voyage that space (and science in general – take a look at the best science documentaries on Netflix streaming in 2015) documentaries became mainstream. Hosted by Carl Sagan, the show was broadcasted in 60 countries and was watched by more than 500 million people. It established the genre as a viable TV program and allowed us to see all best space documentaries on Netflix today. It is a giant on whose shoulder all of them stand.
Space documentaries are quite popular today and with talks about NASA’s Mars mission they are bound to gain even more popularity, as people become more interested in space exploration. Things like supermassive black holes and birth of stars have always been interesting, but with people like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining them in laymen’s terms, they are reaching an audience that usually didn’t care much about space. All in all, things are looking bright for the future of the genre.
To rank 11 best space documentaries on Netflix streaming in 2015, we used our standard formula. Going simply by IMDb rating just wouldn’t cut it, although we did include it in our final ranking. We also scoured dozen of lists on most popular sites in order to get an accurate feel for public opinion. We mixed it all together and came up with a genuine Insider Monkey ranking. We hope you’ll enjoy watching them.
11. Supermassive Black Holes
Site Score: 2, IMDb Score: 3 Overall Score: 5
Directed by N/A
A part of Horizon, BBC’s science documentary series that’s been running since 1963, Supermassive Black Holes is an episode that deals with, well, supermassive black holes. It turns out that these behemoths are responsible for the creation of galaxies and were extremely important in forming the space as we know it. And yes, our own galaxy has one of them in its center. You have to turn on Netflix in order to find out how dangerous it really is and what are the chances of our planet being sucked up by the giant space vacuum.
10. Secrets of the Sun
Site Score: 3, IMDb Score: 2 Overall Score: 5
Directed by Duncan Copp
Sun is largely responsible for life on Earth. However, it has the power to end it as well. Are solar flares able to extinguish life as we know it? A team of scientist tries to answer that question, by studying the eruption of solar flares from 2011, one of the strongest on record. One of the instruments they have at their disposal is Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA spacecraft designed to monitor Sun. Secrets of the Sun explains how this mission will help us better understand our star and increase our ability to issue early warnings in case a massive solar eruption happens.
9. Through the Wormhole
Site Score: 1, IMDb Score: 8 Overall Score: 9
Directed by Kurt Sayenga, Geoffrey Sharp, and Anthony Lund
Year: 2010 – 2015
Through the Wormhole is a 6 season series, containing 54 episodes. Each of them tackles a single question that has been baffling scientist throughout human history. From the existence of the creator to time travel, each episode’s title represents one of the major mysteries modern science tries to uncover. The series was universally acclaimed for its easy-to-understand approach to some of the most complicated problems. And it’s narrated and hosted by Morgan Freeman, what more could you want?
8. Space: Unraveling the Cosmos
Site Score: 8, IMDb Score: 1 Overall Score: 9
Directed by Tom Schmidt
How big is space? ? Pretty big, as it turns out. Space: Unraveling the Cosmos tries (and largely succeeds) to paint us a picture of the vastness of the universe that surrounds us. It makes it rather pointless to whine about an hour long commute to work after watching a documentary about space that deals in distances of several thousand light years. But it’s not all about the distance. The documentary discusses other cool space phenomena, like the density of a black hole (spoiler alert: about similar to packing 1,000 cars into a can of Coke). If you are looking to get your mind blown, this is the documentary for you.
7. Monster of the Milky Way
Site Score: 4, IMDb Score: 6 Overall Score: 10
Directed by Julia Cort and Thomas Lucas
Another space documentary from PBS’ Nova series, Monster of the Milky Way deals with a supermassive black hole positioned in the center of our galaxy. This colossal monster has a potential to swallow the entire Milky Way, including our planet. But before you start panicking, watch the documentary first. Creators of the show have gone to great lengths to explain in layman’s terms one of the most complicated phenomena in existence, a black hole. Even if this one decides to munch up our galaxy, there’s little we can do about it. Might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride.
6. Cosmic Journeys
Site Score: 5, IMDb Score: 5 Overall Score: 10
Directed by Andy Casagrande and Thomas Lucas
Year: 2009 – 2014
Another popular series of space documentaries on Netflix is Cosmic Journeys. The series has 29 episodes, dealing with various aspects of space exploration, from the birth of the Moon to the interstellar flight and the Hubble telescope. The topics are very interesting, and the authors tried to keep up with the current interpretation of each subject, so the show is up to date with all the recent discoveries.
5. Life in Our Universe
Site Score: 10, IMDb Score: 4 Overall Score: 14
Directed by Jim M. Allen, Jon Leven, and Sal Rodriguez
Year: 2013 –
In 1961 Frank Drake derived an argument, later to be named Drake equation, about a probability of extraterrestrial life in our galaxy. Life in Our Universe series deals with those probabilities. Is it possible that we are the only life forms in something as vast as Milky Way, let alone the Universe? And if we aren’t, how come we haven’t discovered anything resembling a civilization so far? Are SETI and other programs aimed at search for the extraterrestrial life useless? Perhaps Arthur C. Clarke said it best: “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
4. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions
Site Score: 6, IMDb Score: 9 Overall Score: 15
Directed by Nick Green, Mary Crisp, Richard Dale, and Julian Jones
NASA missions Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle, culminating with the International Space Station, are some of the most significant events in human history. They represent the moment when humankind finally achieved the ability to leave our planet and explore the Universe. In few hundred years, these baby steps will probably look small, but their significance as milestones in our development can’t be exaggerated. Through interviews with NASA astronauts and ground crews that actually took part in these legendary missions, When We Left Earth series goes into depth on each of them, explaining how they were designed and what obstacles had to be overcome in order to fulfill them. The mini-series consists of 6 episodes.
3. Journey to the Edge of Universe
Site Score: 9, IMDb Score: 7 Overall Score: 16
Directed by Yavar Abbas
Narrated by Alec Baldwin (Sean Pertwee in UK edition) and produced by National Geographic Channel Journey to the Edge of Universe is a tale of an imaginary journey from Earth to the edge of the universe. The authors gave themselves much freedom with the concept and filled gaps with solutions that aren’t quite possible yet, but overall, the series is fun to watch, even though its science may be “out there” on few points.
2. The Universe
Site Score: 7, IMDb Score: 10 Overall Score: 17
Directed by Laura Verklan, Colin Campbell, Tony Long, Darryl Rehr and others
Year: 2007 –
Heavily relying on CGI (as most other space documentaries do), The Universe series deals with scientific topics related to space. Although some would say that the last few seasons drifted from the original concept and blundered into UFO conspiracy theories, the earlier episodes are well worth watching. Besides, UFO conspiracy theories may not always be based on fact, but they are none the less fun to watch.
1. Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey
Site Score: 11, IMDb Score: 11 Overall Score: 22
Directed by Branon Braga, Ann Druyan, Bille Pope and others
A remake of the original series hosted by Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey takes us on an incredible journey, showing us topics ranging from the origin of life on our planet to massive black holes lurking in the depths of space. Another well-known science communicator is hosting and narrating this version of Cosmos, namely Neil deGrasse Tyson. The charismatic director of the Hayden Planetarium does an excellent job replacing his childhood idol Sagan and is the main reason the second iteration of cosmos was so successful. It rightfully claims the top spot on our list of 11 best space documentaries on Netflix streaming in 2015.