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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Crash Course Astronomy: Now in a Language Near You!

By Phil Plait

One of the (many) reasons I wanted to make the Crash Course Astronomy series was to create a resource for people. The series is set up like a supplemental astronomy class covering the same sorts of things you’d hear about in a course lecture, but with zanier animations and more of me waving my hands around. I liked the idea that people taking an astronomy class could get extra info, and people just interested in astronomy could get a broad cover of it.

Also, I write about astronomy quite often—you may have noticed—and whenever some news or interesting tidbit pops up, it helps if I spend a paragraph or two going over the basics. With CCA, I can just link to it!

This is all great … if you speak English. That’s what I happen to parlay (my French, German, and Spanish are a bit rusty), and in general it means getting the word out to the largest audience easily.

But not the entire audience. People on this planet speak a lot of languages, and it would be nice to be able to talk to them, too. The problem is we didn’t have the resources to do that.

… except, we really did. After the fact. Fans of Crash Course number in the millions (and I’m still staggered by that), and many of them are a) resourceful, and 2) polyglots. A few of these folks took it upon themselves to translate some of the episodes of Crash Course Astronomy into their native tongues. They then uploaded those translations to YouTube’s closed captioning system, which means, due to their incredible generosity, you can watch some of the episodes in different languages!

For example, the first episode has been translated into—get this— 9 languages other than English! Just click then “CC” button under the video, then under the “settings” gear set the language you want. Here’s the first to make it easy on you:

The second episode has captioning in a dozen other languages at this point, too. The translations have been reviewed by my editor Nicole Sweeney, and while they may not be absolutely perfect (a near impossibility when translating) they look pretty accurate, and importantly the basic message is there.

The support for the show has been overwhelming, and it warms my heart and fills my brain with joy. The dedication of people and their desire to help others is nothing short of awe-inspiring. So please let me give my sincere and hearty thanks to everyone who helped with this. I hope you know you’re helping deliver the Universe to thousands more people, and that’s a fine thing to accomplish.

Postscript: I’ve had many tweets and emails asking if there will be a Season 2, or follow-ups to include things like the purported Planet 9 or the amazing discovery of gravitational waves. The answer to that is no; CCA was only ever meant to be a single season of 46 episodes. I’m still trying to figure out what my Next Big Thing will be, and trust me, when I do I’ll give it some air here on the blog.

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