Tickets for planetarium shows and lectures may be purchased at the door on the evening of the show, or in advance at the SMC Theatre Arts Box Office (Theatre Arts Complex, SMC Main Campus; limited hours). Shows (except selected guest lectures) are held in the John Drescher Planetarium, located on SMC’s Main Campus in Drescher Hall Room 223. Admission to a single show or lecture is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under). You can enjoy both the Night Sky Show and that evening’s scheduled Feature Show or Guest Lecture for the double-bill price of $11 ($9 seniors and children). For information, visit our the
Planetarium Website or call
(310) 434-3005. All shows subject to change or cancellation without notice.
The Night Sky Show
Our Digistar II planetarium projector recreates the celestial wonders of the ever-changing night sky—as you would see it far from city lights—in a 50-minute show updated weekly with the latest news in space exploration and astronomy. Bring the whole family to “tour” the constellations and ask questions about anything related to astronomy. The Night Sky Show costs $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under) and is presented on the following dates:
Fri, April 20, 27
Fri, May 4, 11, 18
Fri, June 8, 15, 22
Fri, July 6, 13, 20, 27
Fri, August 3, 10
7 p.m. | Planetarium
Feature Shows & Guest Lectures
Planetarium Feature Shows and Guest Lectures are presented at 8 p.m. on Fridays when the Nightly Show is scheduled. For further information, please call (310) 434-4767. Admission is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under).
NOTE: Our 8 p.m. Special Observing Program on April 20th has been cancelled - we will present the alternative "cloudy night" program instead. We apologize for any inconvenience. This has no effect on the 7 p.m. Night Sky program.
Special Observing Event: A Crescent Moon and Famous Double Star
Come look at the 5-day-old crescent Moon, with its dramatically lit crater Theophilus. Then turn your gaze to the famous visual binary of Mizar and Alcor, the middle stars in the handle of the Big Dipper. Mizar was the first telescopic binary (double star) ever documented, in the early 17th century. We’ll begin in the planetarium, then head outside for viewing through telescopes with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!
Fri, April 20 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Mars INSIGHT Mission Preview
The Mars INSIGHT mission, scheduled to launch May 5 for a landing on the Red Planet November 26, carries a suite of instruments designed to probe the interior structure and heat flow characteristics of Mars. We’ll preview the mission, take a look at the status of Mars programs worldwide, and talk about the Mars 2020 rover mission in preparation now at JPL.
Fri, April 27 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Summer Star Party Planner
Gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky are called “star parties,” and summer presents good opportunities for beginners to attend these events without having to deal with winter’s cold and travel hazards. We’ll clue you in on where and when to go, and what to bring to be a welcome star party visitor and participant. You will even have a chance to sign up for information on joining a group of amateur astronomers at a dark sky site in July.
Fri, May 4, 11 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Guest Lecture: Shelley Bonus NASA, ESA, and Private Investors Back to the Moon?
Why, and What about Mars? The Moon is once more the near-term target for NASA, the European Space Agency, and private groups. Guest lecturer Shelley Bonus will explore these developments and how they relate to human prospects on Mars.
Fri, May 18 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
39 The Parker Solar Probe: Touching the Sun
Launching this summer and using the gravity of Venus, the Parker Solar Probe will gradually lower its orbit to within 4 million miles of the Solar photosphere, the apparent “surface” of the Sun. Understanding this region will help develop reliable forecasting for spaceweather events that directly impact technology and life on Earth. If all goes well, Parker will spend the next 7 years unlocking the secrets of this unexplored region, while also becoming the fastest-moving object ever created by humans.
Fri, June 1, 29 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Guest Lecture: Shelley Bonus Jupiter & Europa: Myths and Science
Guest Lecturer Shelley Bonus will provide updates on the newest findings from the Juno probe at Jupiter, and the status of the proposed Europa Clipper mission to investigate the habitability of the subsurface ocean of Jupiter’s icy moon. (By the way, Juno, the wife of Jupiter, was able to peer through clouds to reveal Jupiter’s true nature and actions. The two didn’t always get along. Find out why, in this celestial soap opera.)
Fri, June 8 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Guest Lecture: Shelley Bonus Saturn Update!
New Proposed Missions Guest lecturer Shelley Bonus presents the latest updates on Saturn and proposed missions to explore two of its moons. Surprised by the discovery of salty water plumes shooting from the ice-covered moon Enceladus, NASA is considering a new mission, “Enceladus Life Finder,” to sample and analyze the makeup of the plumes, which could include amino acids that might be a sign of life in that subsurface ocean. Another proposed mission, “Dragonfly,” would involve flying a probe like a nuclear quadcopter in the atmosphere of Saturn’s large moon Titan, surveying for possible life.
Fri, June 15 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
The Summer Solstice: Orbital Geometry and Cultural Celebrations
This year’s Summer Solstice, marking the Sun’s northernmost position in the skies of Earth, falls on June 21. Astronomically, it is the first day of Northern Hemisphere summer. Culturally, it is marked with myriad traditional observances. Find out about the physical reasons for our planet’s seasons—and their longterm variations—as well as the bonfire-leaping, Maypoledancing, and love-declaring traditions of various cultures.
Fri, June 22 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Summer Deep Sky Wonders
The wonders of the summer sky show us star birth and death, the raw material of planetary formation, mature stars in tight spheres of a million or more, younger stars 40 in looser associations, and literally countless distant galaxies, each with billions of suns. We’ll look at beautiful images of some of the finest deep sky objects (DSOs), discuss what they seem to be telling us about our universe, and offer tips on where to go to view these beauties.
Fri, July 6 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Human Spaceflight Update
As the planned first flights of new American-crewed spacecraft approach, we will survey both the new “commercial” crew carriers from SpaceX and Boeing, and provide the latest details on flight schedules, which are likely to change between press time and this program. We will also cover the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle that NASA intends to use to send crews beyond low-Earth orbit in the early 2020s, Chinese space station activities, and the state of Russian space vehicle development.
Fri, July 13 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: The Moon on the Anniversary of Apollo 11, Jupiter, and Saturn!
On the 49th anniversary of the first lunar landing, come look at the 8-day-old Moon and its Sea of Tranquility. Then take a look at Jupiter and its belts and moons, and at Saturn and its beautiful rings. We’ll begin in the planetarium, then head outside for viewing through telescopes with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!
Fri, July 20 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
The Grand Canyon Star Party (GCSP) – a Volunteer’s Report
One of the Southwest’s premier astronomy outreach events is the annual Grand Canyon Star Party, with simultaneous events held on the North and South Rims of the Canyon. Get a firsthand report from Jim Mahon, our planetarium director, who attended the 2018 North Rim Party, and will try to convey the magic of sharing a dark summer sky above the stunning geology of the Canyon with visitors from all over the planet.
Fri, July 27 | 8pm | Planetarium
The Meteors of Summer: The Perseid Shower of August 2018
Peaking on the night of August 12-13, this year’s Perseid meteor shower will enjoy a sky free of moonlight, so a trip away from city lights should be a rewarding one for those willing to stay up after midnight for the peak of activity. We’ll discuss the nature of these “falling stars,” and provide tips for getting the best views. (Hint: Besides getting away from the glare of city lights, bring a comfy lounge chair and a warm beverage, and invite along some good friends and/or family!)
Fri, August 3, 10 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium