Shows and lectures are very popular and sell out quickly; advance ticket purchase strongly recommended. Tickets 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).
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 $5 ($4 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under) and is presented on the following dates:
Fri, May 17, 24, 31
Fri, June 21, 28
Fri, July 12, 19, 26
Fri, August 2, 23
7pm | Planetarium
Planetarium Feature Shows and Guest Lectures are presented at 8 p.m. on Fridays when the Night Sky Show is scheduled. For further information, please call (310) 434‑4223. Admission is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under).
Special Observing Event:
A First Quarter Moon and Saturn’s Rings
The evening sky will offer a nice view of a seven-day-old first quarter moon in the southwest, and Saturn rising high enough to view in the southeast. After a quick observer’s primer in the planetarium, we will do some detailed observing of these two celestial gems through a variety of telescopes, with assistance from local amateur astronomers. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution images in the planetarium.
Fri, May 17 | 8pm | Planetarium
Summer Star Party Planner
Gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky are called “star parties,” and summertime presents good opportunities for beginners to attend these events without having to deal with winter’s cold and travel hazards. From local urban and suburban locations to high, dark mountains and deserts, 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 about attending a star party this summer hosted by your humble lecturer.
Fri, May 24, 31 | 8pm | 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 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), and discuss what they seem to be telling us about our universe. Tips for where to go to view these beauties will round out the program.
Fri, June 21, 28 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
Saturn and a Crescent Moon
A slender crescent moon and Venus will linger in the western sky this evening. As the long twilight of summer deepens, a creamy-colored “star” about halfway up in the south will become visible—the beautiful ringed planet Saturn, almost 900 million miles away. After a quick briefing in the planetarium, we’ll head outside to enjoy these and other sights in several telescopes, with assistance from local amateur astronomers. If clouds interfere, we will view spectacular images of Saturn from the comfort of our planetarium seats. Dress warmly!
Fri, July 12 | 8pm | Planetarium
The Meteors of Summer:
The Perseid Shower of August 2013
Peaking on August 12th, this year’s Perseid meteor shower will enjoy a sky relatively free of bright 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, July 19, 26 | 8pm | Planetarium
The James Webb Space Telescope:
NASA’s Next Big Thing
After years of delays and cost overruns, NASA’s scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is beginning to come together in laboratories and manufacturing facilities around the world. With a price tag now projected to approach $9 billion, JWST has had a profound impact on the space science budget for nearly a decade, but survived every attempt to end the program. We will take a close look at this program’s difficult gestation and the tradeoffs needed to keep it moving toward a hoped-for 2018 launch.
Fri, August 2, 23 | 8pm | Planetarium