Carl Sagan Presents Six Lectures on Earth, Mars & Our Solar System … For Kids (1977)

The Roy­al Insti­tu­tion Christ­mas Lec­tures for Chil­dren — it’s a tra­di­tion that began back in 1825 when the inven­tor Michael Fara­day orga­nized an annu­al lec­ture series for kids, hop­ing to instill in a younger gen­er­a­tion a love for sci­ence. Almost two cen­turies lat­er, the tra­di­tion con­tin­ues. Emi­nent fig­ures like Sir David Atten­bor­ough and Richard Dawkins (watch here) pre­sent­ed lec­tures to young­sters in 1973 and 1991 (respec­tive­ly). And the great astronomer Carl Sagan took his turn in 1977, offer­ing six lec­tures on our solar sys­tem. The first two talks offer a broad overview of the plan­e­tary sys­tem, set­ting the stage for three pre­sen­ta­tions (see below) ded­i­cat­ed to Mars, a top­ic that holds spe­cial inter­est this week. With NASA just hav­ing land­ed its rover Curios­i­ty on the sur­face of Mars, it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing to watch Sagan talk about the knowl­edge gained from ear­ly NASA orbiters, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Mariner and Viking mis­sions. In a rather time­ly way, Sagan’s lec­tures put the Curios­i­ty mis­sion in a grander his­tor­i­cal con­text, a deep­er his­to­ry of space explo­ration.

Sagan’s talks assume no spe­cial­ized knowl­edge and run rough­ly 60 min­utes each. You can find more Christ­mas lec­tures on the RI web­site here.

The Out­er Solar Sys­tem and Life

The His­to­ry of Mars

Mars Before Viking

Mars After Viking

Plan­e­tary Sys­tems Beyond The Sun

We’ll be adding this course to the Astron­o­my sec­tion of our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

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Comments (4)
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  • Hi,
    I won­dered if you could amend this post to also point peo­ple towards the Ri Chan­nel where the videos are avail­able for free in much bet­ter def­i­n­i­tion and with addi­tion­al time-cod­ed online resources:

    We’re digi­tis­ing the back cat­a­logue of Lec­tures from 1966 to present day. Lat­est series is Christo­pher Zee­man from 1978 (more to fol­low in next few weeks):

  • Rob Cawston says:

    Not sure if my last mes­sage made it but want­ed to alert you to the Lec­tures in bet­ter def­i­n­i­tion with addi­tion­al learn­ing resources on the Ri Chan­nel — we’re digi­tis­ing all the lec­tures since 1966. Won­dered if this could be men­tioned in the post.


  • Adrian Worley says:

    The RI has re-organ­ised some­what, this lec­ture series in now, (2020), here

  • Amanda says:

    A good friend of mine rec­om­mend­ed Hen­ry Clark Hack­er to me when I had issues with my part­ner, he start­ed act­ing sus­pi­cious and was on his phone at odd hours & always act­ing strange. I con­tact­ed Hen­ry hack­er and he remote­ly hacked into his device grant­i­ng me total access to his device with­out him know­ing. I was shocked and over­whelmed that I could read his texts, see pic­tures, emails and all that. This hack­er is hands down the best I’ve hired. Con­tact him on email : Hen­ryclar­keth­i­cal­hack­er @ g mail com, I rec­om­mend him to every­one read­ing this post.

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