Charlie talks stars

By Phil Plait | October 12, 2011 7:00 am

Charlie McDonnell is an adorable young man who has an amazingly popular video series he does on YouTube. His latest is a quick primer on stars, and why they’re awesome:

I have to say, that’s pretty good! Accurate, fast, fun, and adorable. Did I already say "adorable"? Well, he is.

He has other videos in his Fun Science, like ones on sound, light, and the Moon. I can easily see these being shown in classrooms; kids will like ’em, and if they like something, they’re more likely to let it sink in.

And that’s the point.

Tip o’ the lens cap to Ali Marie via Fraser Cain.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science

Comments (20)

  1. This is amazing! I was absolutely hooked for all 4 minutes of that, and most of it I already knew anyway. Keep doing what you do Charlie :-) If it’s good enough for Stephen Fry, it’s plenty good enough for me!

  2. Chris

    There should be some clarification there because not all the elements in you and me were made in stars. Hydrogen was just produced in the big bang, and lithium beryllium and boron were made by cosmic ray spallation events.

  3. Bee

    Upon first sight I thought he’s Brian Cox’ son ;o)

  4. I can’t wait to get home and show this to my daughter.

  5. Thanks for introducing me to Charlie, Phil! His video is awesome – and not in the “Glee” sense.

  6. Even though I already knew everything he talked about in this video, it’s great to see someone that can make science more “fun” for more kids. (I don’t know why people think it isn’t “fun”, unless their schools turned it into something dull and boring. You know, some monotone-speaking teacher who doesn’t get the kids involved, and never has any hands-on lessons.)

    I heartily support anyone who gets more kids interested in science. Two thumbs up.

  7. BigBadSis

    Oh please, please, please let my 16-year old daughter fall in love with him! Great son-in-law material.

  8. For Americans, just having a British accent gives a kid a big head-start for being adorable.

    There’s so much mindless, negative crap on YouTube. So nice to see this.

  9. Wayne on the Plains

    I’m with Zucchi, it’s just not fair to have such a cool accent, but the video was great.

  10. Sarah

    Cute kid and excellent video! Keep up the good work!

    @Chris #2 – You’re a nerd!

  11. MaryB

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Phil. I have been lookiong for videos suitable for my young grandchildren.

  12. @ Chris (post # 2):

    I hadn’t heard of cosmic-ray spallation nucleosynthesis before. Are the lithium, beryllium, and boron formed via the fusion of lighter elements, or are they instead formed from the fission of heavier elements that are not normally fissile?

  13. Chris

    @ 12 tracer
    It’s fission of heavier elements when they get struck by cosmic rays. Those elements burn up too quickly in stellar interiors.
    If you look at the abundances of Li, Be and B, you can see a giant dip (10^-5 times as carbon, nitrogen or oxygen) It’s a rare process, nowhere near as efficient s nucleosynthesis.

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great clip, thanks. Well done Charlie McDonnell – excellent. :-)

    Question : How many times can the Earth really go into the Sun?


    Answer : Once. After that, there’s no more Earths left! ūüėČ :-)

    Of course, if you did have an endless supply of Earths to go round it’d be another story entirely.

    Also [nitpick mode on] the Sun isn’t an average star – it’s actually in the top 5% of stars mass-&-luminosity~wise given 70% of stars are red dwarfs, 15 % are orange dwarfs and 10% of stars are white dwarf ex-stars.* [/nitpick mode off]

    Still those are only very minor quibbles & I’m most impressed by & really enjoyed this clip.

    @8. Zucchi : There’s so much mindless, negative crap on YouTube. So nice to see this.

    Yes that’s true although as with so much in life and online especially Sturgeons law applies and there’s also an awful lot on Youtube which is very good and intelligent and wonderful too. As I’m sure y’all know.


    * Source : Croswell, Ken, “Is there Life around Alpha Centauri?” article in ‘Astronomy’ magazine, April 1991, Kalmbach publishing Co.

  15. Messier Tidy Upper

    Sturgeons Law (or Revelation) for those who don’t already know :

    WARNING some possibly (very mild expletives) NSFW language there.

    One example of wonderful stuff on Youtube to support my case is here :

    Another rather quirky one I stumbled onto recently which was also done by some more youthful budding scientists is here :

    Keep watching for the odd but well-produced & amusing segue into something completely different! :-)

    There is, natch, loads more of such great stuff and (nearly) the usual full human range of material.

  16. Leon

    You’re right, that is a great educational video for the young…but, did he have to say “ore-inspiring”??

    Stupid intrusive R!

  17. BigBadSis

    Silly me. My daughter’s been watching his videos for over 3 years! We both love him!

  18. MoMan

    Tyson, Plait, Nye….look out! Your replacement is in the wings. Awesome young bloke and teacher.

  19. TheBeef

    I used his video on sound in a class a couple of days ago and the kids loved it. I think he is great.

  20. Christopher

    Am I the only one who was thrown a bit when he said “miles?


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar