Ever wish you could step inside of a sci-fi movie? On August 21st, Americans nationwide were fully immersed in a truly surreal scene for a short, but spectacular moment as the moon passed in front of the sun. This solar eclipse moved diagonally across the United States, blocking out the sun in totality from South Carolina up to Washington state. And as our nation faces staggering challenges and immense internal divisions, a moment to see the world differently could not be more timely and poignant.
One of mankind’s most important achievements can be traced back to a solar eclipse in 1919 when the moon’s shadow revealed a completely new understanding of the universe. The scientific discoveries made during this eclipse nearly 100 years ago confirmed Einstein’s 3-year-old theory of general relativity and opened the door to future discoveries about black holes, the Big Bang, and gravitational waves. The discoveries produced by these past celestial events have helped inspire generations of scientists and storytellers alike. And while the industries of art and science may feel like worlds apart, they share one common principle – seeing is believing.
If you’ve ever had a meaningful experience watching films like Arrival, Star Wars, Interstellar, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and any of the Star Trek films or TV series, you’ve already explored some of the many exciting settings imaged by artists inspired by science. These fictional stories bring us to new worlds to show how our humanity – our morals, our curiosity, and our capacity – survives and changes in extraordinary circumstances.
This summer’s eclipse provided NASA with an opportunity to study whether life can survive beyond Earth in a Mars-like environment. And while mankind’s roadmap to Mars is still years off, our interest in the red planet has already yielded brilliant cinematic journeys, like The Martian and National Geographic Channels’ series Mars. I look forward to the next few years of great films and TV shows that take us to both real and imagined new worlds, further expanding how we see ourselves as a species and our place in the cosmos.
Were you moved by the Great American Eclipse? Below are some out of this world films and TV series to watch next:
The Farthest – Available on PBS
The City Dark – Available on PBS
Mars – Available on National Geographic Channel
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – Available on Netflix and National Geographic Channel
The Martian – Available on iTunes and Amazon
Particle Fever – Available on iTunes and Amazon