I’ve been feeling a bit spacey lately…
Let me rephrase that.
Space has been on my mind lately. Not that it’s ever too far off, but it’s nice to have a weekly dose of spacey goodness due to the new series of Cosmos airing on Fox and National Geographic (it’s well worth your time, and past episodes can be found on Hulu).
It might be strange to realize today, but Disney (formerly Walt Disney Productions), used to be a major source of educational films and materials due to the long-running Walt Disney Educational Media Company. If you grew up like I did in the era of actual filmstrips, you probably saw a few during your school days. I stumbled across one of these films recently, which ties together nicely with my space-bound mood, and might serve as a nice appetizer for the next episode of Cosmos.
The film is Comets: Time Capsules of the Solar System, directed by the wonderfully-named Chuck Finance and released in 1981. It’s an interesting look at our conception of comets in the not-so-distant past; it’s remarkable what we’ve learned in the years since, as probes have actually examined, sent landers, and even returned samples from these mysterious objects. We’ve even discovered entirely new areas of the solar system which were unknown and unexplored in 1981.
While I can’t be sure that I ever saw this one “back in the day”, I’m pretty sure I did; for some reason I vividly remember the computer plotter printing out the orbits of the comets, and the great proto-CGI animating the orbits. It’s really wonderful to see what the technology was like back then – that plotter is really cool! It’s highly likely that I remember this from the Disney Channel because – believe it or not – they actually aired stuff like this way back when to fill the space between movies and programs. I believe the animations of the solar system forming were also used by Disney Channel as stock footage for some of their interstitials that needed a “sciency” feel.