Contest: Win IMAX Hubble DVD

When I saw the IMAX Hubble movie last year when it was released in theaters, it’s portrayal of the immensity and gloriousness of our universe literally brought me to tears (read my review here) Now you can have a copy of your very own IMAX Hubble, as it was just released on DVD. And Universe Today has 5 copies to give away, courtesy of Warner Brothers! Just send an email to info@universetoday with “IMAX Hubble” in the subject line for your chance to win. Contest ends on Monday, April 4, 2011 at 1500 GMT.

See the original movie trailer, below.
Continue reading “Contest: Win IMAX Hubble DVD”

Bonanza of Blu-rays to Give Away!

Thanks to the folks at A&E Home Entertainment, we have four different Blu-ray discs to give away to four lucky readers of Universe Today:

All on Blu-ray:

The Universe: Explore The Edges Of The Unknown The Complete Season Five
Ancient Aliens-Season One
Life After People: The Complete Season Two
How Earth Was Made Complete Season One

How to win one?

Just send an email to info@universetoday with “Blu-ray Giveaway” in the subject line, and we’ll randomly choose 4 people to win one of the four discs. The contest goes until Thursday, Feb. 10 at 12 Noon PST.

Below is more info on each Blu-ray title, and click the links to Amazon to find out more.

The Universe Explore The Edges of the Unknown The Complete Season 5

It’s been 50 years since man ventured into the unknown, and the heavens are only now yielding their greatest secrets. Follow in the galactic path of THE UNIVERSE, which this season leads us even further into the world beyond our own.

From robotic rovers on Mars to NASA probes slamming into comets and deep space telescopes capturing violent images of the birth of stars, season five of this illuminating HISTORY™ series explores how these discoveries were made – and who made them. Dramatic CGI and interviews with expert cosmologists, astronomers and astrophysicists bring the history of the heavens down to earth and provide a glimpse into our future.

Ancient Aliens: Season One

Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and man’s own development? Presented in the 1968 bestselling book Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Daniken, the theory of ‘ancient aliens’ rocked people’s beliefs in mankind’s progress. Ancient cave drawings of strange creatures, remains of landing strips in Peru, and Indian texts that describe the ‘flying machines of the gods’ were just a few of the odd archaeological artifacts cited by von Daniken as proof that ancient astronauts were well known to our ancestors. Produced with the exclusive cooperation of von Daniken himself, ANCIENT ALIENS launches all-new expeditions to seek out and evaluate this evidence, with a concentration on discoveries of the last 30 years, including unusual DNA findings on man s evolution and newly decoded artifacts from Egypt to Syria to South America. It is a balanced investigation into a theory some believe cannot be true, but many agree cannot be ignored.

Life After People: The Complete Season Two

What would happen if every human being on Earth disappeared? This isn’t the story of how we might vanish – it is the story of what happens to the world we leave behind. The second season of the fascinating HISTORY™ series LIFE AFTER PEOPLE takes a stunningly graphic journey to a world wiped clean of humanity, using cinematic CGI to reveal – in scientific detail – the fate of every aspect of the man-made world, and how the landscape of our planet would forever change in our absence.

From animal outbreaks to massive structural collapses to hordes of toxins and chemicals unleashed across the globe, LIFE AFTER PEOPLE: THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO reveals what happens in the hours, days, months, and years after people disappear. Welcome to Earth, population zero

How The Earth Was Made: Season One

Spectacular on-location footage, evidence from geologists in the field, and clear, dramatic graphics combine in this stunning 13-part series from HISTORY™ to show how immensely powerful, and at times violent, forces of geology have formed our planet.

From the Great Lakes to Iceland, the San Andreas Fault to Krakatoa, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE travels the globe to reveal the physical processes that have shaped some of the most well-known locations and geological phenomena in the world. With rocks as their clues and volcanoes, ice sheets, and colliding continents as their suspects, scientists launch a forensic investigation that will help viewers visualize how the earth has evolved and formed over millions of years.

Win ‘Distant Suns’ iPhone App

Screenshot of the Distant Suns version 3.


It’s time to unleash your inner astronaut! The Distant Suns app has been around awhile and is one of the more popular astronomy-related applications for iPhone and now the iPad. It was originally a program for the Commodore Amiga computer in 1987, but now takes advantage of the latest hand-held technology. Distant Suns is an app for both serious astronomers and beginners (its very user friendly) and includes a wealth of information about astronomical objects and fun “fly to” features. Creator Mike Smithwick has just put out a new updated version of Distant Suns (version 3.1.4) and has given Universe Today 15 (count ’em! 15!) of this latest version to give away. This app regularly sells for $9.99, so this is a great chance to own one of your very own.

Just send an email with the subject line of “Distant Suns App” in the subject line to [email protected] and we will randomly choose 15 winners. UPDATE: The winners have now all been notified, and this contest is over.

For more information about the features and capabilities of Distant Suns, see the video below, or see the Distant Suns website, or the Distant Suns iTunes store page.

Distant Suns has gotten a 5 Star review from from, and 5 stars in, and here’s a glowing review from OtherWorldComputing.

Win iPhone App for Observing: TeleCalc

Screenshot from 'TeleCalc'


There’s a new observing app for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, called TeleCalc. Enter in two data points about your telescope (aperture and focal ratio) and two about the eyepiece (focal length and diameter) the program calculates angular field of view, best eyepiece magnification, resolution (Dawes, Rayleight), exit pupil, limiting stellar magnitude and light gathering power.

TeleCalc is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese. Search “TeleCalc” in iTunes to download it or find it on the iTunes store.

Thanks to developer Fabio Rendelucci who has given Universe Today 3 free TeleCalc apps to give away.

The first 3 people to answer the following question will be sent a code for a free TeleCalc app:

To find the magnifying power of any telescope, divide the focal length of the telescope by the focal length of the what other telescope piece?

Submit your answers in the “Comments”

Also, if you’re looking for more, take a look at all the apps that NASA has available for both iPhone and Android.

Contest: Win New iPhone/iPad Lunar Calculator App

Screenshots of the LunarCal App


Love observing the Moon? There’s a new iPhone, iPod and iPad app that will provide everything you need to know. LunarCalc shows moon phases from any date between the years 1900 and 2200. It also provides ecliptic latitude and longitude, zodiacal position, distance from Earth, and apogee and perigee dates. The iPad version also provides moonrise, moonset and culmination, percent illuminated and lunation period.

LunarCalc is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.

Courtesy of the app’s creator, Fabio Rendelucci, Universe Today has 3 LunarCalc apps to giveaway. The first three correct answers to the following question will win. Post your answer in the comment section.

Question: When will the next total lunar eclipse take place?

To find out more or to buy the app, search “LunarCalc” in iTunes to download it.

Review: “How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming” — Plus win a copy!

"How I Killed Pluto" -- a new book by planet hunter (and killer) Mike Brown.


It’s hard to imagine, but in 1992 astronomer Mike Brown didn’t know what the Kuiper Belt was. He had never heard of it. But just a few years later in 1999, he bet another scientist that within five more years he would find another planet out there at the edge of the solar system, past Pluto. It took a five-day extension of the bet, but Brown did it. And so began the death of Pluto as a planet, but the rise of a whole new class of objects called dwarf planets. Brown has written a book about his adventures as a planet hunter and eventual planet killer, called “How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming.”

(Read our exclusive Q & A with Mike Brown!)

His book is a highly readable, first person account of an astronomer who, by chance, realized he had remarkable penchant for discovering small, far away objects. The book is filled with humor, candor, geeky tendencies (he thought the first sonogram of his daughter looked like images from Venera 2 spacecraft from Venus), engaging personal anecdotes – and even romance, intrigue, mystery, fatherly love, and science.

“Discovery is exciting,” Brown writes in his book, “no matter how big or small or close or distant. But in the end, even better is discovering something that is capable of transforming our entire view of the sun and the solar system.”

And Brown’s discoveries have transformed our view of the solar system (some people have changed the world — how many can claim they have changed the solar system?!)

The discoveries of more objects in the Kuiper Belt turned on the heat of the debate of whether everyone’s favorite misfit planet, Pluto, was actually a planet or just a member of a new, quickly growing class of what are now called dwarf planets.

From this, some will claim, our planetary mnemonic went from “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” to “Mean Very Evil Men Just Shortened Up Nature.”

Mean and evil or educated? You decide.

Want a chance to win a copy of the book? Universe Today has 5 copies to giveaway!

UPDATE: We have winners! They are:

Gadi Eidelheit
Jason McInerney
Sten Thaning
Pam Jacobson
John Wenskovitch


Just send an email to [email protected] with the subject line of “Killing Pluto” by Monday, December 6 at 12 Noon Pacific Daylight Time. We’ll randomly choose 5 emails and notify the winners.

Find more about the book at (the book will be available on Dec. 7, 2010) or at Mike Brown’s website, Mike Brown’s Planets. Here’s a link to the section on his website about the book.

Review: “Packing for Mars” (and win a copy, too!)

'Packing For Mars' by Mary Roach


What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a spacewalk? Is it really difficult to burp in space? What happens if you don’t walk for a year? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? Which would be worse if you spent a year in space: not being able to have sex or not being able to have a beer? If questions like this keep you up at night, you really need to read Mary Roach’s new book, “Packing for Mars: The curious science of life in the void.” The book takes a look at the challenges of sending the human body – with all its requirements and desires — into space.

The life of an astronaut in space really isn’t very glamorous at all, and the topics Roach covers aren’t always the first things people think about when pondering the requirements for spaceflight. “Not the parts you see on TV, the triumphs and the tragedies, but the stuff in between,” she writes “ — the small comedies and everyday victories. What drew me to the topic of space exploration was not the heroics and adventure stories, but the very human and sometimes absurd struggles behind them.”

Yes, going to the bathroom in space is very much a part of this book. But there’s also things like how it took major research to figure out the politically correct way to plant a flag on the Moon.

To research her book, Roach toured the gamut of space research facilities and simulated space stations and ends up finding that space exploration is very much an exploration of what it means to be human. Though there is plenty of silliness and hilarity in this book, it also considers how humanity’s efforts to understand the great void have produced awe-inspiring results, such as the landing of a delicate scientific instrument upon the surface of Mars, more than 400 million miles away. As Mary Roach ultimately discovers, “space doesn’t just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between.”

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

Want to win your own copy of Packing for Mars? Universe Today has 5 copies to give away! Send an email to [email protected] with “Mary Roach Book” in the subject line and Fraser will randomly pick the winners. Deadline for entry is Tuesday, September 21, 2010. We’ll notify the winners by email.

For more information on the book, see Mary Roach’s website, or

Contest: Win “Wonders of the Solar System” DVD

If you didn’t have the chance to see Brian Cox’s series “Wonders of the Solar System” which aired on the BBC earlier this year and the Science Channel in August, we’ve got some good news for you: it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray in the US on September 7. But there’s even better news for readers of Universe Today: We have five – count ‘em – five copies to give away, courtesy of the BBC and Bender Helper Impact marketing agency. “Wonders” is an extraordinary look at our world and solar system, and is rich with breathtaking images beamed back from the fleet of probes, rovers and telescopes currently in space, and is a “must-see” for any space and astronomy enthusiast.

To enter the contest, send an email to [email protected] with “Wonders DVD” in the subject line. Deadline for entry is Wednesday, September 8 at 12 pm PDT. Winners will have their choice of “Wonders” on DVD or Blu-ray.

See more info below about this remarkable series, including a video trailer that will give a taste of this great series.

Wonders of the Solar System” is a 3-disc set, and the series is presented by renowned physicist Brian Cox who will explore some of the most amazing features of our planet’s own backyard. Witness how forces of nature carved out beauty and order from the chaos of space and learn how our home planet is not isolated, but intimately connected with the rest of the solar system. Using the latest scientific knowledge, state of the art CGI, along with stunning images paired up with some of the most spectacular, extreme locations on Earth to help reveal wonders never thought possible. Included are two bonus programs, “What on Earth Is Wrong with Gravity?” and “Do You Know What Time It Is?”

See more about “Wonders” or you can put in an order to purchase on Amazon.

Contest: Win “The Universe: Our Solar System” in Blu-ray

A new giveaway opportunity! This time it is the Blu-ray edition of The Universe: Our Solar System.

The Blu-ray edition of the History Channel’s The Universe consists of 10 episodes from the first season, and uses cutting-edge computer-generated imagery to bring distant planets and faraway stars up close. We’ve long been fascinated with the sky and outerspace, and in this series, history and science collide to investigate all we know about the Universe.

To win, send an email to [email protected] with “Solar System” in the subject line. Fraser will randomly pick one email as the winner. Deadline is Monday, August 30 at 12 pm PDT.

Find out about The Universe: Our Solar System at this link.

And by the way, the winner of the new book about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, “The Grand and Bold Thing” by Ann Finkbeiner, was Irfaan Hamdulay from Cape Town, South Africa. Congrats!

This is a two-disc set:

DISC 1: Secrets of the Sun / Mars: The Red Planet / The End of the Earth: Deep Space Threats To Our Planet / Jupiter: The Giant Planet / The Moon

DISC 2: Spaceship Earth / The Inner Planets: Mercury & Venus / Saturn: Lord of the Rings / Alien Galaxies / Life and Death of a Star

In this series you can witness the sun’s birth at the dawn of our solar system, and its death, billions of years in the future; explore the possibility of a human settlement on Mars; and learn about the devastating threats posed by the meteorites, comets, and asteroids that routinely collide with Earth.

Each of the 44-minute episodes begins with a general introduction of subjects ranging from the sun to individual planets. Each topic is then broken down into a series of segments that detail specific ideas, theories, or components integral to the understanding of the main topic as well as historical material, current studies and theories, and projections of potential future events and scientific advances.

Explore the Solar System on Foot with New iPhone App

Another new iPhone app for astronomy, and this one, called SpaceWalking combines a 3D scale model of the Solar System with location-based data from GPS satellites to place a virtual scale model of the Solar System in your neighborhood to explore. For more info, check out the Spacewalking website. If you’re quick, follow the @SpaceWalkingApp on Twitter
for a special deal.

Also, I have two of these apps to give away. First two commentors who can answer this question correctly win: How far is Jupiter from the Sun?

Here’s a link to a 3D Solar System.