As a monthly, non-prime time programme, I find it hard to remember to watch TSAN when it’s broadcast and invariably have to hope to catch it on iPlayer in time (I reckon, if it’s a monthly programme, you should have a month to catch up on the last episode, not 7 days!).
Anyway – I haven’t found a forward schedule of programmes but I have seen that the latest episode is on iPlayer and can be downloaded within the next 5 days (you then have a month to watch it).
I also spotted a Horizon programme on Mars which I haven’t watched yet (though it is a repeat, from 2009). It’s also available to watch or download for the next 5 days: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00p1crx/mars-a-horizon-guide
I have a Mediacentre PC in my living room running Windows 7. Since Windows XP (2001), Microsoft has always had a PVR version of its windows available called Windows Media Centre. I have been using this and its future iterations throughout its lifetime and I simply cant live without it! You operate it with a remote control handset just like your TV or dvd player. Its interface is extremely user friendly.
The main feature which I think would attract you Andy, is its ability to automatically record any programs in future with a given keyword or string of keywords in either its title or program/film description. You can also scroll through a 2 week TV guide and select any program to be recorded as a series. So no more missing Sky at Night and no worries of it being removed in a week!
If you have any version of Windows 7 (except Starter), then you will already have the software. All you now need is a Freeview TV tuner and a remote control (which normally comes with the tuner). Preferably a dual tuner. Windows media centre almost always picks it up. They come as both an internal card or as a USB device.
Of course Sky, BT and Virgin Media customers also offer this PVR service at a premium price…personally, I think they can stuff it and I dont waste my money on their ad ridden TV channel services. Our Freeview channels are enough and BBC programs are quality. Additional drawback with their PVRs is that you cant keep the programs forever, once the hard drive storage is used up, you have to delete stuff. I like to keep many of them! For instance I have that Horizon Mars edition on my hard drive since its first showing as I have the series on auto record. I only keep the space related or other interesting science related episodes.
There are other software and hardware alternatives such as a dedicated standalone PVR of which HUmax has always been the leader. They’re really good and user friendly actually but again their storage restriction applies and once filled you are forced to delete. Whereas with a Windows mediacentre, you can move you programs to another hard drive or DVD/Blu ray disk even.
So just some options for your consideration.
Having said all that, BBC IPlayer and other channel equivalent are fantastic service because it gives me an opportunity to see new programs that I would not have know about in the first place. So they have become part of my Living room experience too!
As far as I know, the Sky at Night programme can only be on iPlayer for 7 days because of a licensing agreement with the Sky at Night Magazine. As you may know, if you buy the magazine, the attached DVD contains a copy of the recent programme. That’s the main reason, I understand, why virtually none of the Sky at Night archive is online. A real shame in my view, as it would be fascinating to watch some of the old programmes.
The jury is still out for me on the new format. I enjoy a lot of the content, but (for obvious personal reasons!) would love to see far more focus on amateur astronomy. Jane Fletcher, when she was series producer, made a point of pretty much dividing the programme into two… part astrophysics / “professional” astronomy and part amateur astronomy. Personally, I much preferred this format… but now we seem to be down to Pete Lawrence’s 5-minute slot to satisfy the amateur astronomers. I used to enjoy the ‘double-act’ between Pete and Paul Abel, but that seems to have been dropped now.
I really enjoyed the Pete and paul double act too, I miss that. Paul is not quite the same as a solo presenter.
I am still enjoying the sky at night but there is a lot of charm that I miss about it. It has to evolve and it will keep stumbling and finding its feet for a long while. The important this is for all of us to give it room to settle and even change again if current format doesnt quite work. It is still an important, informative and enjoyable program.
I enjoyed last month’s episode (still yet to see this month’s). I learnt a fascinating new mystery about the Sun that I never knew about. The fact that it is a near perfect sphere despite its enormous mass is still puzzling physicists. The explanation of how planets bulge out more the mass it has, was very well explained in layman’s terms. It must have something to do with the various forces of magnetic currents somehow but its still a big mystery and that was a fun revelatation for me which Maggie had presented on the program.
I think it wants to concentrate at least for now in bringing in new audiences and so is treading carefully not to alienate them with too much “hard core” astronomy. What it needs to find is the right balance which it probably hasn’t quite got yet.
Another important factor is presentation. it needs character. Maggie has that but seems to have a marmite effect on viewers. But then again, Patrick moore would have had the same effect in his prime with his motor speed delivery. The Pete and Paul banter is sorely missing. Everyone is looking rather stilted in their presentation apart from Lintott, Pete and perhaps Lucy and Culshaw (though, they have hardly any screen time since). Paul is losing the charm going solo.
But you know, with every factual TV series, it takes time for them to relax and find a groove, the whole team are wading through a period of uncertainty which would make things a little more difficult.
Anyway, Look forward to watching the latest episode this week!
I just watched the latest episode and was thoroughly engaged. So much more I have learnt again and I think I take back much of what I wrote in the previous post. I think the format is nearly right for this period of time. Although, I have to admit, it is somewhat of a “safe” format that follows the structure of other recent science based programs such as Bang goes the Theory show.
My biggest excitement was finally understanding what those damn hills I see in the middle some of the moon craters. For over a year I wondered how they formed, it never made any sense to me. Finally, I got an answer and they beautifully demonstrated it with a drop of water. One mystification now ticked off my very long cosmic list. Although, I am sure if had asked Mike, Brian and co, I would have got my answer a long time ago!
I also didnt know about the meteorite Zoo, I will try to participate as much as I can. I participated in the Galaxy Zoo for a while (admittedly, I got a bit bored after a few months and stopped) but this one has a “protect the earth” incentive 🙂 The frequency of metoeorite imapcts on our atmosphere with the power of more than a hirojima bomb is actually a more sobering a thought than I realised. Was it 26 they said since 2000?
I also enjoyed the galaxy collision graphics, I know we’ve seen it before but still learn a few new things such as the collision applying more pressure on nebulae dust to potentially create new born stars and that scientist are still working out theories of the percentage of stars born this way. I like Lintott’s wry optimism of Sky at night still being around.
Finally the origins of our Moon is not as solid a theory as I thought it was from the recent proposal that a planet (Theo) collided with the Earth. Its a lovely theory though but it was fascinating to hear of the puzzles that dont fit, such as the moon rocks from both the lunar landings and meteorites share too much common elements with Earth for the Theo theory to fit because it suggest planet Theo had very similar material to Earth…which is too much of a coincidence…at least that was how I understood the argument. Loved when Maggie called herself a “Lunar”tic 🙂 She might have outwardly joked about signing up for going to the moon to study more rocks but deep down she probably really means it!
Pete’s short amateur astronomer segment was actually enough. He highlights the main things to watch out for related to the program’s theme and its then down to us to refine the details for ourselves if we are inspired enough.
Yep, I am enjoying the series, I’m realising there’s no point in looking back at what we enjoyed and were fond of in its previous iterations. I am warming to this new format and their presentation has markedly improved. The theories they cover are very up to date and program is hugely informative which is the all important thing…although that may be a selfish opinion as I am not being considerate to you more advanced/experienced amateur astronomers…apologies 😉
We should definitely start a flame war here, between those who like the new format and those who want something like the old format.
That should liven up the forums a bit! 🙂 😉
No!!! I promise to agree with everyone, peace, love and harmony and all that, dudes and dudesses 🙂
I love the old format, loved last years format, and just getting in groove with the new one! They all had their pro and cons. I am just so glad we still have something to look forward to in this very niche genre. One that is still decently presented and informative still, just not as great as it used to be. But it’s an unfair comparison because many factors have inevitably changed with time.
Ok…did I hear someone draw a sword out of their sheath??
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