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Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was the name of a thirteen part television series produced by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan which was first broadcast in the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980 and featured a soundtrack by Vangelis. It won an Emmy and a Peabody award and has been since broadcast in 60 countries and seen by more than 500 million people, according to the NASA Office of Space Science.

Sagan's historical description of Hypatia of Alexandria and the burning of the Library of Alexandria has been criticized by historians who interpret the sources on Hypatia's life and the end of the library differently and who believe that Sagan should have made clear that there is a scholarly controversy on this issue. Other parts of Cosmos were controversial among the general public, though hardly among scientists, such as Sagan's straight-forward treatment of astrology as a pseudoscience and his equally straight-forward description of biological evolution.

Cosmos has long been unavailable after its initial release because of copyright issues with the included music, but has recently been re-released on DVD.

The thirteen parts are:

I: The Shores Of the Cosmos

  • Light years, galaxies, stars, planets: numbers and distances, where we are located (local group)
  • The Library of Alexandria
  • Eratosthenes and the circumference of Earth
  • The Cosmic Calendar: from the beginning of the universe to the "arrival" of humans

II: One Voice In the Cosmic Fugue

III: The Harmony Of the Worlds

IV: Heaven and Hell

V: Blues For A Red Planet

VI: Travellers' Tales

  • The Netherlands in the 17th century
  • The life and work of Christian Huygens and his contemporaries
  • The Voyager probes (first images of Jupiter and its moons)

VII: The Backbone of Night

VIII: Travels In Space and Time

IX: The Lives Of the Stars

X: The Edge Of Forever

XI: The Persistence Of Memory

XII: Encyclopedia Galactica
XIII: Who Speaks For Earth?

Carl Sagan also wrote a book called Cosmos (1980), which is similarly structured and contains most of the information from the series, and some information not found in it. This book is still in print as of 2002.

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