There was a time when astronomy was viewed as a whole lot of stargazing and mathematics and not much else. There are a lot of events that shifted the global culture on how interesting space was to observe and explore, and a big part of that had to do with the prevalence of space-themed television shows like Star War, Star Trek and Lost in Space. The various NASA space missions also changed the public perception of space and made it cool to be a space explorer.
But being an astronomer was still seen as a nerd’s job or something that was inherently boring. That is, until Cosmos came along. This documentary series hosted by Carl Sagan had a message that would alter the way people viewed the stars and astronomy as a field of study or career choice.
The visuals, the compelling narration and the sheer wonder of it all are what worked together to make this documentary series truly groundbreaking and revolutionary. Carl Sagan’s idealized view of the cosmos helped as well, as he has become endlessly quotable and beloved in the years since this series aired. His eternal optimism about where we are going as a people and what we have accomplished is what made this series so entertaining for people.
In the eyes of most people, the cosmos seemed like unreachable, unattainable frontier, but Carl Sagan always saw it as our future and where we were meant to be. He had a knack for bringing his visions into his work and helping others to see things the way he saw them. This is why the series has had such lasting appeal and why it has seen a few follow up series over the years.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson revitalized the series in 2014, and now there is a new series helmed by Seth MacFarlane that is coming out soon. These shows have built on what Sagan did and are bringing astronomy and science to the masses in a way that is approachable and accessible. That’s something only a few scientists in history have managed to do.
Cosmos was the science show for everyone, and it was about as successful as a science show could be. It launched Sagan to stardom and helped to popularize the idea of mainstream science shows, creating a whole new generation of people who would grow up interested in astronomy, technology and related fields. The 13-part series has been collected, rereleased, referenced and pointed to as inspiration endlessly over the years, so it’s no surprise to see that it is still going strong with new series being released under the same name.
Because science is always growing and changing and new discoveries are being unveiled, itis necessary for the show to be updated and for new versions to address those changes and new findings. This is why Cosmos will always be relevant as science moves forward and introduces new concepts to new generations.