60 Second Adventures in Astronomy

This collection of fourteen 60 second animated clips were produced by the Open University, and funded by the Science Technology Facilities Council. They focus on cutting edge topics within astrophysics in a humorous and easily accessible way.

The animations cover topics such as the Big Bang, the expansion of the Universe, supernovae, exoplanets, life on Mars, the Moon, dark matter, dark energy, special relativity, black holes and the Gaia spacecraft. They are particularly relevant for topics in post-16 physics but could also be used to introduce topics to younger children.

The clips are narrated by the actor and comedian, David Mitchell.


A Day on Mercury

This animated clip explains how Mercury rotates in around 59 Earth days to rotate but only takes 88 Earth days to orbit the Sun (the length of its year). So Mercury spins three times for every two orbits, which means each Mercury day lasts for two Mercury years. This means, living on Mercury, you would celebrate...

Black Holes

This animated clip explains in 1931, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, calculated that if a star is big enough, that at the end of its life it can collapse to create a black hole from which nothing can escape. In fact, we are told, you can make a black hole out of anything as long as it is big enough.

Dark Energy

This animated clip describes how Einstein used the cosmological constant as a way of keeping his model of the Universe static but that Hubble showed that the Universe was actually expanding. However, evidence now tells us that since the universe is accelerating in its expansion, a new term for what is causing...

Dark Matter

This animated clip explains how Fritz Zwicky noticed that galaxies were missing matter and called this matter, dark matter. Zwicky realised that looking at gravitational lensing of light from distance galaxies would allow scientists to calculate how much dark matter there is but there still remains the problem of...


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