Space and the universe have fascinated humans for thousands of years. Being awestruck by what lies beyond our home planet has been one of the most important driving forces behind our species' technological advancement.
Yet, despite all that we have achieved, there is still much to be learned from the universe at large. Whilst you could pursue a career in astrophysics or astronomy to find out, luckily we also have a plethora of easy-to-digest documentaries that give us an insight, as laymen, into our current understanding of what exists beyond Earth.
In the following article, we've hand-selected seven of the best out there. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
What are the best space documentaries?
There are literally thousands of space documentaries out there, but some of them are leagues ahead of the rest. Of course, like any question of this nature, personal taste will come into any decision on which of them are "the best".
But, there are some outstanding space documentaries that, put simply, are a must watch. We have included a few of these in our list below, but there are plenty more out there.
If you want to bulk out your playlist with other worthy documentaries beyond our suggestions you'll find plenty of excellent "best space documentaries" lists on the net.
What are the best space documentaries for 2018?
2018 happened to have produced some great space documentaries. These include, but are not limited to:
- Mercury 13 - An inspiring documentary about female pilots during the 1960s.
- The Parallel Universe - A great little documentary produced by the BBC and released in 2018.
But, there is a huge catalog of space documentaries that are great to watch whatever year it is.
1. "Apollo 11" has no narrator
"Apollo 11" is a fascinating documentary packed with historical footage from this history-making manned mission to the Moon. You'll get to see real footage from the NASA control room and on the rocket itself, as well as footage from the moon lander.
It offers an incredible opportunity to understand everything that went into that awe-inspiring event, from pre-launch to splashdown recovery.
Unlike other documentaries, "Apollo 11" does not have a narrator. All audio is from mission control which can make it difficult to understand at times. Otherwise, this is a refreshing and fascinating insight into one of man's greatest achievements.
2. "Fight for Space" is a must watch
"The Fight for Space" is an interesting documentary whose main theme is about the decline of the space program post the Apollo program. The documentary attempts to explain why, since then, man hasn't even left Earth's orbit.
It features famous scientists like American astronomer and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku who argue that the decision to cut back on space exploration funding was a real scientific tragedy. They also attempt to make the case for returning to space as soon as possible.
This is a must-watch if you love space and exploration.
3. "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman" is awesome
"Through the Wormhole" is awesome simply by the fact it is narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman. But, it also happens to be a great documentary that explores some of the deepest mysteries of existence.
It attempts to answer things like:
- What was there before the beginning?
- Are we really alone?
- Is there a creator?
The documentary brings together the brightest minds and best ideas from the very edges of science - Astrophysics, Astrobiology, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory, and more. It is absolutely fascinating to watch.
4. Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" is legendary
Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" is the closest you'll ever get to the perfect documentary series on space and the cosmos. It is an absolute must-watch for anyone who considers themselves a fan of space exploration.
Hosted and narrated by the late, great Carl Sagan, "Cosmos" is simply one of the best on the market. By watching "Cosmos" you will be treated to an engaging guided tour of the universe, as we knew it back in the 1980s.
It originally aired on PBS and is split into 13 gripping and fascinating episodes. Do yourself a favor and watch as soon as you can.
5. "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" is an excellent reboot of Sagan's masterpiece
Hosted and narrated by the great Neil deGrasse Tyson, "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" is effectively a homage to the 1980s masterpiece with Carl Sagan. In fact, Neil often quotes Carl Sagan as one of his greatest inspiration for pursuing his career in Astrophysics.
This sequel-of-sorts is also split into 13 episodes and features updated graphics and information to bring it up to current science and discoveries. It, like the original, is another must-see documentary on space and offers a great fresh look into the void.
You won't regret binge-watching this one.
6. "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" is absolutely riveting
If a documentary includes the much-missed Stephen Hawking, it must be a good one, right? Frankly, if you want to hear the views of anyone on the subject of space, you can't really go wrong with one of the most acclaimed scientists of all time.
The 2010 TV mini-series was written by Stephen and features aliens, time travel, and the story of everything, with incredible graphics and interesting explanations from the theoretical physicist and cosmologist.
This documentary series has everything you'll ever need, in one neat package. Add this to your to-watch list ASAP.
7. "Journey to the Edge of the Universe" won't disappoint
Depending on which versions you watch, you'll either be rewarded with the dulcet tones of Alex Baldwin for the US Version, or the great Sean Pertwee for the British version.
"Journey to the Edge of the Universe" takes you a graphic-packed, breathtaking tour of the universe.
It promises and doesn't disappoint to take you to the very edge of space as we know it, and hits you with scientific facts on the way. It, really, is a great space documentary that you'd be silly to miss.
This great 2008 documentary was first broadcast on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.