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BBC Documentaries: Season 2007

2007x02 The Moon

  • 2007-12-16T21:00:00Z on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

The Moon - Ruler of the Night

This exclusive BBC documentary tries to explain the ancient fascination of humans for the earthly satellite.

Almost every night it stands on the sky, sometimes a small sickle, sometimes full and round. The full moon is a symbol of fertility and insanity, lust for murder and werewolves. But what influence does the moon really hold on our life? This movie shows the millenia old fascination for the earthly satellite - from the stone-circles of ancient moon-cults to the time of the cold war to new missions to the moon in the near future.

Science has discovered the moon anew. After the race to space had been won by the Americans it quickly lost its magic/attraction. Already new and farther away targets were luring. The long awaited landing on the moon insofar turned out to be a disappointment as it only showed that the earth-satellite was exactly what had been observed in the sky: a cold, lifeless rock which only catches the attention of the eye because it reflects the light of the sun. This realization left no room for the century old myths and legends which surrounded the moon. Yet, while the public turned its attention to new discoveries, geologists just started with their examinations. The gathered moonstone told the story of the creation of the earth and its satellite from a new point of view. The moon itself emerged from the collision of the young earth and another planet some 4.5 billion years ago. Its rock hasn't changed much since and thus gives important clues to the history of the earth.

Other celestial bodies like the Jupiter satellites Io and Europa and the Saturn-moon Titan turned out to be exciting worlds with gigantic volcanic eruptions, thick atmospheres and ice-covered oceans. Should our own moon too hold more than had been discovered until now? Indeed scientists found something of interest on the poles: a thin layer of ice which could provide humans with life-giving water. This discovery ignited the race to space anew - with old and new contestants. NASA and the Russian space agency now race with dreamers, visionaries, space tourists, tough businessmen and the world-power China.