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The Secret Life of the Sun

The Secret Life of the Sun

Sun Jun 23, 8-9pm, BBC2

By Phil Harrison
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It’s exhilarating to be reminded what a weird singularity our existence is. This film is a bite-sized primer to the burning rock that sustains life on our planet. It’s full of mind-boggling numbers (travelling at the speed of light, a proton takes 10,000 years to get from the core of the sun to the surface) and spectacular sights – an eclipse and the Northern Lights both feature here.

And it also contains a few vague but, by definition, deadly serious threats. Tiny variations in sunspot generation could lead to another ice age. And – as the people of Malmo found out a few years ago – a glancing blow from a solar storm could extinguish a city’s power supply. Presentational duties are split between Kate Humble (gushes enthusiastically, goes on nice mini-breaks) and Dr Helen Czerski (wears a lab coat, talks to boffins). ‘Horizon’s’ big challenge is always to maintain a balance between dry and trivial. This one gets it just about right.
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