- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English PCM 2.0
- Region: A
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 2
- Studio: A&E Home Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 24, 2010
- List Price: $29.95
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Science and astronomy geeks (and I include myself in that description) have obviously made this series from The History Channel a brimming success. Now with this fifth season under its belt, The Universe does not seem to be running out of steam, a true testimony to just how vast the universe actually is and the endless mysteries it holds.
It may seem oxymoronic for a series named The Universe to base an entire season on our very own solar system, but despite what seems like an outward limitation, season five of the series is still fascinating to watch for anyone interested in astronomy and physics.
The History Channel’s series breaks down complex theories and makes them easy for laypeople to understand. Over the course of its ten episodes, The Universe: Our Solar System tackles topics like Jupiter’s magnetosphere, theories on life under the moon Europa’s icy surface and multiple theories how our own moon was formed. The series does stray a little farther outside of the solar system in at least one episode, “Alien Galaxies,” and examines the formation of different types of galaxies in distant parts of the universe.
In its fifth season, The Universe shows no sign of running out of topics to explore in the vast universe in which we are but a tiny part. This continues to be an inspiring, fun and educational series.
The 1.78:1 AVC/MPEG4 encoding for The Universe: Our Solar System is of a varying degree of quality. The 1080p high definition source is taken from various source materials, including archival footage, some up-scaled special effects, and some standard definition NASA footage. Obviously this imagery won’t look great in high definition, but most of the true HD footage looks well enough, although most of the live action HD footage does show a high amount of video noise and seems a little soft in detail. The high definition CG effects, on the other hand, look spectacular, and should please astronomy fans.
The sole audio option is a PCM 2.0 stereo mix that is adequate for the program material, though it would have been nice to hear some of the sound effects in surround. Dialogue is clear throughout and sound effects have a good spread across the stereo field.
This is a barebones release absent any supplemental materials.
The Definitive Word
Most people over the age of thirty will remember when a series like this was limited to PBS. How far we have come since those days. The History Channel’s The Universe: Our Solar System is just more proof of how far cable television has come. Even if you’ve watched this already as it aired, you’ll want to pick this up on Blu-ray. It looks far superior to any high definition broadcast, you won’t need to deal with all those commercial interruptions, and it’s just a darn good series to keep around.
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