The 1980 television series, Cosmos, is now available on Hulu in its entirety. The series, hosted by Carl Sagan, was a landmark series for its time, introducing many Americans and people around the world to the wonders of astronomy and planetary science. The videos are only available to people in the US, though I am sure there are proxy servers for non-US people to get around that, but you may have an easier time getting series off of iTunes. To be honest though, Cosmos never influenced me as greatly as it has many other people. In fact, I never even saw an episode of it until I watched the Jupiter/Saturn episode, Travelers' Tales yesterday. What I found most interesting was the part where Sagan is sitting down with Larry Soderblom, discussing dark spots on Europa and whether certain features were impact craters or potential geyser sites. Nice to see Sagan break character a bit ;-)
The shows are updated at the end with some info on results from the 1980s, though some of the graphics have definitely been updated as recently as the late 1990s (the Galileo images of Europa kinda give that away). Still definitely worth checking out at least as a reminder of how far this field has come in the last 30 years.
In completely unrelated news, astronomers in the Philippines and Australia continue to turn their telescopes to Jupiter now that the planet is moving further and further from the Sun from Earth's perspective. Anthony Wesley captured a great view on March 21 of Jupiter with Io transiting across the giant planet. Io is the faint orange spot to the left of the dark spot near the center of Jupiter's disk. Io's shadow is the dark spot further to the left.
Tip of the hat to Phil Plait.
Link: Cosmos on Hulu [www.hulu.com]