Alpha DVD StarGaze: Hubble's view of the Universe and Mars: The Red Planet

StarGaze: Hubble's view of the Universe by default consists of slow, majestic pans across a starscape of incredible richness and complexity. Pleasant, wordless new-age style music plays in the background, allowing the viewer to enjoy the jaw-dropping spectacle of millions of stars and galaxies flowing past. Realising that the tiniest specks on the screen represent objects that are billions of times the size of our planet imparts a rare perspective.

While its standard play mode is good for relaxation, the Hubble DVD also features optional subtitles and narration in four languages, so you know what you're looking at.

Mars: The Red Planet has two modes: Entertainment and Interactive. Entertainment mode starts off with the launch of a Mars probe, as viewed by a camera on board the rocket. Watching a rocket climb through the atmosphere in real time is pretty much the high point of this DVD. Much of the rest consists of slow pans of the surface of Mars as seen from space, accompanied by classical music. There's nothing wrong with that, but after seeing oceans of stars in the Hubble DVD, views of cratered deserts just didn't have as much impact.

The Mars DVD contains extra features, such as a map of the surface which can be zoomed and panned, as well as brief histories of Mars exploration, a screen saver, and a pair of 3D glasses for viewing some of the images. However, despite its features, this disc just can't compete with the content of the Hubble DVD.

The running time for the Hubble DVD is approximately 80 minutes, while the Mars DVD goes for about 90 minutes. Both discs will run on standard DVD players or DVD-capable personal computers.

Alpha DVD StarGaze: Hubble's view of the Universe and Mars: The Red PlanetPrice: $39.90 eachDistributor: Wild ReleasingPhone: (02) 9356 2266URL: www.wildreleasing.com.au

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