Stephanie Pappas — Live Science Contributor September 24, 2018

Many years ago astronomers would have laughed at the idea that there were planets outside our solar system. As technology further developed, telescopes became more advanced and people were able to see objects outside our solar systems, such as Jupiter and earth. The documentary “Alien Planets” a Netflix series called The Universe, talks about how people discovered the very first planet outside our solar system, and how that discovery had a huge impact on astronomers from that day forth. The filmmakers named this documentary “Alien Planets” because the planets that are being discussed are unfamiliar to scientists and are somewhat unknown. “Alien Planets” is effective in using rhetorical strategies to persuade viewers by making the documentary easy to understand and entertaining.

The first element that the filmmakers used is that at the very start of the documentary was asking questions to get the viewers interested. Thirty seconds into the documentary, they also tell the reader some interesting and extreme facts about what scientists, as well as astronomers, have been discovering in recent years. The planets astronomers have been discovering were monsters because of the extreme temperatures of the planet or how much pressure the planet has under the surface of the water. Another extreme comment they said was how you would have died on the planet they have been discovering recently before you had the chance to grasp what was happening in your surroundings. The filmmakers introduced a new topic that can possibly interest the majority of people, which is that there can be another earth somewhere outside our solar system waiting to be discovered. By doing so, they keep the viewers intrigued because they might want to know if there is another earth that was discovered by scientists. Capturing the viewer’s attention was an effective and efficient way of getting the viewers to stay and watch the documentary.

The filmmakers for “Alien Planets” used Aristotle’s strategy of pathos to try to get the viewer to feel empathy and sadness so that the viewers can somehow relate. At six minutes into the documentary, they introduce a person named Geoff Marcy, whose career was not advancing. His research about stars was hitting a dead end and he was questioning his abilities as a scientist. The experiment he decided to do was search for other planets that were not in our solar system. At the time it was out of the ordinary, no scientist would ever have tried because the majority of scientists and astronomers thought other planets outside our solar system never existed in the first place. At the end of the experiment, he was able to restore the faith he had in himself as an astronomer and became the first person to discover a new planet with his partner, Michel Mayo.

The filmmakers used objects, projections, and easier explanations to help the viewer understand the concepts that the scientists were explaining. At ten minutes a professor from the University of California Berkeley, Alex Filippenko, used two rubber balls to explain how the star and the planet itself rotates. The planet rotates around the humongous star, but the star itself rotates around its own mass. Another example that the documentary uses is the environment on our earth to show the differences between our planet and other planets astronomers find in outer space. Such as how the planet Earth has air, water, and a nice temperature. While other planets have no water, but only rock while the temperature is 300 degrees because of how close they are to their star. Viewers are more understanding of what the scientists and astronomers are talking about since they have broken it down to similar terms which can lead to longer view time. It can also help clear up any confusion the viewer might have from the scientific explanation.

Throughout the documentary, The filmmakers have gained much credibility by displaying multiple scientists, astronomers, and UC professors talking about the situation at hand. The scientists and astronomers guide you through their explanation step by step showing how they got to the conclusion they said to be true. It persuades the viewer’s opinion because it shows that what they are saying can be trusted and the things they are saying are not made up. The filmmakers also use facts about many different types of planets they have discovered to describe what they have found on the planet and what the planet is made of. The scientists and astronomers guide you through their explanation step by step showing how they got to the conclusion they said to be true. This proves to the reader that they fully understand the situation and are very professional about the topic. By using professional scientists, astronomers, and Uc professors from different schools, they gain credibility for the facts that they are telling and showing the viewers.

The filmmakers make the documentary more intriguing by asking questions to the viewer and answering them with images and 3-D displays about their explanation. At twenty-four minutes into the documentary, they display a planet they have discovered called “HD 80606 b”, and stated that the planet was super hot by showing the flames around the planet as well as showing the orbit of the planet around the sun. They show a moving 3-D image of the orbit of the planet in oval shapes instead of a circular shape like the earth’s orbit. The filmmakers also make the documentary more captivating to watch by showing the surface of the alien planet they are describing to show the audience what it would look like if they have traveled to the planet themselves. For example, planet “Gliese 436 b”, which is a water planet with extremely high water pressure, as well as shows this by 3-D projecting the water turning into ice from the pressure the planet is emitting without being cold. By using 3-D objects in the documentary and projections of the planets, the filmmakers have made the film more compelling.

Overall, “Alien Planets” was a magnificent and well-filmed documentary to watch and that is filled with interesting knowledge about outer space and what astronomers are looking for at the moment in their laboratory. The film was very creative and informational with many different sound effects and graphic effects to show the viewer a visual of how it would look like to be there in person. I would not be surprised if this was a popular documentary among scientists and Stem(science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students.

My name is Richard Phung, I love to draw and sing on my free time. I love to spend time with my family and my girlfriend. I also love Asian food such as Pho.