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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

An Interactive Crash Course Tour of the Solar System

By Phil Plait

During the course of making the Crash Course Astronomy series, our animators at Thought Café and I put together a fun poster of the solar system with little factoids about the various members of our Sun’s family.

Building on that, the TC folks did something even cooler and more ambitious: an interactive 3-D video tour of the solar system narrated by … me! I helped write the copy, and they created the video. It’s pretty amazing; you can click and drag around to see different things as I describe them.

The most immersive way to view this is to use Cardboard with the YouTube Android app. You can also just use the YouTube app for Android or iOS, and move your mobile device to poke around the solar system. If you’re on a desktop, use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, IE, or Opera; click and drag the mouse to follow along with me as I narrate (there are visual cues to tell you which way to go).

Here’s the video itself on YouTube:

I’ll note that we had to keep it pretty brief, so each planet just gets one or two facts, and we had to leave off a few things (like comets and the Oort Cloud). But it’s still fun and, I hope, interesting. The idea was to give it enough “gee whiz” factor to get people looking for more information, like, say, with more Crash Course Astronomy videos.

Speaking of which, the series is starting up again after a few weeks off due to holidays. There are only three more to go (Episode 44 goes up Thursday), but there’s still a lot of Universe to cover.

A lot.

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