Empire of the Sun

Image for Empire of the SunNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Professor Brian Cox visits some of the most stunning locations on earth to describe how the laws of nature have carved natural wonders across the solar system.

In this first episode Brian explores the powerhouse of them all, the sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse - when the link to the light and heat that sustains us is cut off for a few precious minutes.

But heat and light are not the only power of the sun over the solar system. In Norway, Brian watches the battle between the sun's wind and earth, as the night sky glows with the northern lights.

Beyond earth, the solar wind continues, creating dazzling aurora on other planets. Brian makes contact with Voyager, a probe that has been travelling since its launch 30 years ago. Now 14 billion kilometres away, Voyager has just detected the solar wind is beginning to peter out. But even here we haven't reached the end of the sun's rule.

Brian explains how its greatest power, gravity, reaches out for hundreds of billions of kilometres, where the lightest gravitational touch encircles our solar system in a mysterious cloud of comets.

  • Photo: Aurora over Norway

    Photo: Aurora over Norway

    The spectacular Aurora Borealis appear over the Norwegian countryside.

    Watch a clip of the Aurora Borealis
  • Photo: Iguazu Falls

    Photo: Iguazu Falls

    Professor Brian Cox at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil.

  • Photo: Solar Eclipse

    Photo: Solar Eclipse

    Solar Eclipse seen over the Ganges at Varanassi in India.

    Watch Brian's clip of the eclipse
  • Photo: Deep Earth Network

    Photo: Deep Earth Network

    The Deep Earth Network at Goldstone, California, USA.

  • Explore the Solar System

    Explore the Solar System

    Watch video clips from classic BBC television programmes about the Solar System. The videos cover topics including the planets, moons and astronauts from series such as The Planets, The Sky at Night and Horizon.

    Learn more about the Solar System with clips from the BBC archive


Brian Cox
Gideon Bradshaw
Danielle Peck
Executive Producer
Andrew Cohen


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