Lights, Camera, Asteroids, Action! Explore Movies to Learn about Asteroids and Planetary Defence!

Lights, Camera, Asteroids, Action! Explore Movies to Learn about Asteroids and Planetary Defence!

Lights, Camera, Asteroids, Action! Explore Movies to Learn about Asteroids and Planetary Defence! https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/16213621/movies-asteroid.png 447 512 Asteroid Day Asteroid Day https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/16213621/movies-asteroid.png

The current releases of the movies Asteroid City and 65 might encourage you to consider hosting your Asteroid Day event in front of a big screen or gathered in the comfort of your home to engage colleagues, family and friends to learn about the role of asteroids in science fiction films. 

Watching such movies is more than just a fun entertainment option. It can inspire debates and reflections on reality versus fiction, and on how we can protect Earth against dangerous asteroids.

We have seen organisers around the world show their audience 51 Degrees North, the movie that inspired Asteroid Day. This may just be the first of a series of films on the subject that can be shown in the days or weekends leading up to Asteroid Day on June 30th.

Audience at a planetarium in Baku, Azerbaijan (left) and children gathered in a house in Pedra Lavrada, Brazil (right) during Asteroid Day 2021 and 2022 to watch movies about asteroids. (Kosmologiya/GEPEA)

We present 20 movies about asteroids and other minor bodies threatening Earth, listed in chronological order. Showing them in this order allows  for understanding the evolution of the context, ideas and technologies of these productions:

  1. When Worlds Collide (1951)
  2. The Monolith Monsters (1957)
  3. Moon Zero Two (1969)
  4. Meteor (1979)
  5. Lifeforce (1985)
  6. Deep Impact (1998)
  7. Armageddon (1998)
  8. Dinosaur (2000)
  9. Post Impact (2004)
  10. Earthstorm  (2006)
  11. Impact (2009)
  12.  Meteor (2009)
  13. Meteor Storm (2010)
  14. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
  15. Asteroid vs Earth (2014)
  16. Meteor Assault (2015)
  17. Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
  18. Color Out of Space (2019)
  19. Greenland (2020)
  20. Don’t Look Up (2021) 

It is also a good idea to include movies produced in your country involving asteroid threats and planetary defence such as the Italian Gli Asteroidi and the Indian Tik Tik Tik that can be part of Asteroid Day events in their respective countries.

Gli Asteroidi (Italy) Tik Tik Tik (India) Movie poster (IMDb)

When hosting a movie screening, interact with your audience by encouraging comparisons with reality. This Planetary Society article reviews two very popular films from our list. Our article on good documentaries will also help in your choice.

Some other ideas:

Some movies use the term meteor in their titles and turn it into a threat. Does this really make sense? This lesson explains the differences and the proper use of these and other terms.

Some productions talk about supposed dangers posed by meteorites as well as the contamination of the earth by bringing rocks back from space. This lesson explains the scientific importance of collecting asteroid samples and allows you to describe missions such as Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx.

Is the aftermath of an asteroid impact faithfully portrayed in these movies? Here you will find what happens when an asteroid hits Earth, while also mentioning some events that already occurred on our planet, including what wiped out the dinosaurs.

Was it movies that inspired planetary defence methods or was it the other way around? MIT’s Project Icarus and the results of DART mission are examples showing that both can happen. Compare other possible methods for asteroid deflection with those presented in the movies. 

Before organising your event, don’t forget to check if the genre and rating of the selected movies is appropriate for your target age groups. Don’t forget to register your movie sessions on our page and report how your audience interacted with the event.