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DVD Review - Atlas of the Sky - Space Software/Avanquest
The title here is decidedly misleading - this isn't an atlas but a DVD containing a very effective series of mini-TV shows on astronomical subjects. As well as a rather pompous introduction there are thirteen sections to the DVD, divided into five areas.
The first of these covers the sun in a single episode, titled "ALERT: Solar Storm" and using the idea of a solar storm as a hook on which to explore the nature of the sun. The second area, "worlds apart" has three segments on inner planets, outer planets and planetary moons. Next up, "the stellar realm" goes further afield to look at the birth of stars, novas and supernovas, and galaxies. The "close to home" section homes in on our moon, meteorites and artificial satellites. The final section "the small stuff" looks at the bits of the solar system that aren't covered elsewhere - comets, asteroids and oddities in the outer reaches of the system.
Each segment makes a watchable little show in its own right. They combine live action video with scientists talking to us and graphics, which are imaginative but not always up to what would be usually regarded as broadcast quality.
Does it work? Yes, better than I expected. The segments are enjoyable and informative. Occasionally it suffers a touch from "gee-whiz-itis" - a tendency to go into a state of awe and to sound like the introduction to a Star Trek episode - but this often just occurs at the beginning and end of a segment, with good quality content in between (largely because much of the comment in the middle comes from the scientists). Probably best for an astronomy beginner, but anyone with an interest in the universe will find something to enjoy here.
The DVD is only available in region 1/NTSC format. This will work with most PCs with DVD players, and on multi-region and NTSC supporting DVD players (including more recent Playstation 2s), but will not work on quite a lot of European (PAL) DVD players. Check the compatibility of your player!
Reviewed by Brian Clegg
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Last update 05 June 2007