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PBS Takes Viewers Out of This World with Space Night Programming
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– November 20 Programming Block to Feature Special on Comet ISON and Two New Shows from NOVA –

ARLINGTON, VA; October 30, 2013 – PBS announced today the details of a full night of primetime programs devoted to exploring the cosmos. The programs will air on Wednesday, November 20 from 8:00–11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). PBS’s award-winning series NOVA, the highest-rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television, contributes two one-hour programs to the themed primetime block. “At the Edge of Space” probes the earth-space boundary zone, home to some of nature’s most puzzling and alluring phenomena. “Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday?” examines whether element-rich asteroids flying around the cosmos could be an economic salvation instead of just instruments of extinction. The special COMET ENCOUNTER is an intriguing and timely program that brings viewers up close to the comet ISON as it approaches the sun in late November 2013.

“Wednesday nights on PBS are the destination for the very best in science and nature programming. To that end, we are pleased to present this primetime block devoted to space and comets, timed to feed the public's fascination in comet ISON's passing the Earth and heading toward the sun," said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. "This programming block further demonstrates our continued efforts to build thematic nights with programs that deliver timely, unique and related content."

The full details of the November 20 Space Night include:

  • NOVA "At the Edge of Space" - Take a spectacular exploration to probe the earth-space boundary zone, home to some of nature’s most puzzling and alluring phenomena: the shimmering aurora, streaking meteors, and fleeting flashes that shoot upwards from thunderclouds, known as sprites. Discovered in 1989, sprites have eluded capture because they flicker into existence for a mere split-second — 40 times faster than an eye blink. NOVA rides with scientists in a high-flying weather observation plane as they hunt for sprites and finally succeed in snaring them in 3D video, gaining vital clues to unravel their mystery. NOVA also combines advanced video technology with stunning sequences shot from the International Space Station. Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
  • NOVA "Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday?" - The asteroid that exploded in the skies over Siberia injuring more than 1,000 and damaging buildings in six cities was a shocking reminder that Earth is a target in a cosmic shooting range. From the width of a football field to the size of a small city, these space rocks have the potential to be killers. In a collision with Earth, they could set off deadly blast waves, raging fires and colossal tidal waves. But some audacious entrepreneurs look at asteroids and see payday, not doomsday. Some asteroids are loaded with billions of dollars’ worth of elements like iron, nickel and even platinum. While NASA plans an ambitious mission to return samples from a potentially hazardous asteroid, would-be asteroid miners are dreaming up their own program to scout for potentially profitable asteroids. Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
  • COMET ENCOUNTER - Scientists around the world follow a once-in-a-lifetime event, tracing the path of the sun-grazing comet ISON. The comet, somewhere between one and 10 kilometers in diameter, is currently just beyond the orbit of Jupiter. As it races past Earth toward the sun, it will likely develop a tail to light up the night skies. Then ISON will slingshot around the back of the sun, to emerge perhaps brighter than ever. However, there is the chance that ISON could evaporate completely, or the sun’s gravity could tear it apart, producing a so-called “string of pearls” – several small comets arching across the night sky. Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

About PBS
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For additional information, photos, interviews and more, contact Goodman Media or PBS:

Meghan Newton / John Michael Kennedy 
Goodman Media International for PBS, 212-576-2700;

Carrie Johnson, PBS, 703-739-5129;
Jessie Yuhaniak, PBS, 703-739-5364;