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Santa Monica College|Administration & College Governance|Marketing|Events|Planetarium Shows Lectures

Planetarium Shows Lectures


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 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, October 7, 14, 21, 28

Fri, November 4, 18

Fri, December 2, 9, 16

Fri, January 6, 13, 20, 27

Fri, February 3

7pm | Planetarium​


Lecturer Jim Mahon will present astronomy and space news updates and a Night Sky program using desktop planetarium programs.

CHECK THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES MOVING FORWARD. We anticipate having our Digistar 2 star projector back on line in mid to late October.



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).

Six Day Old Moon I.jpg 

Special Observing Event: Six Day Old Moon, the Ring Nebula, and a Pretty Double Star!

Take a look through various telescopes at the waxing gibbous Moon and two of the beauties of the early autumn sky! After a quick observer’s primer in the planetarium, head outside to view the Moon, the terraced inner walls of its Copernicus crater, the area around crater Aristrarchus, and the winding canyon known as “Schroter’s Valley.” Then turn your gaze to the Ring Nebula, and finish up with a view of double star Albireo. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!

Fri, October 7 | 8pm | Planetarium


OSIRIS-REx: The Asteroid Sample Return Mission

In September, the OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to set out on a 2-year voyage to rendezvous with asteroid Bennu—a primitive carbonaceous asteroid with an orbit that carries it relatively close to Earth every 6 years, and a potentially hazardous object posing a moderate threat of an Earth impact in the next 200 years—and return with samples. Find out how the mission intends to accomplish these objectives, and discuss Potentially Hazardous Asteroids along the way.

Fri, October 14, 21 | 8pm | Planetarium

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The Total Eclipse of August 21, 2017

The first total solar eclipse to occur in the continental USA since 1979 is coming this summer! With the solar corona plainly visible overhead, a total eclipse is one of those “Must See” experiences. Making landfall on the Oregon coast, the path of totality curves over 14 states, transiting the entire breadth of the lower 48 before leaving on the South Carolina coastline. Come review what an eclipse actually is, find out the path of the eclipse, and discuss viewing safety and weather conditions.

Fri, October 28 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Holiday Telescope Buyer Survival Guide

Considering a holiday gift of a telescope for that budding young scientist or newly star-struck adult? You’ll quickly find a bewildering array of choices and a whole new jargon when you shop for a telescope. We’ll de-mystify things and provide some concrete examples and recommendations for first-time telescope shoppers. We’ve timed this program early enough to let you get to good suppliers BEFORE they sell out of the best starter instruments!

Fri, November 4 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Gemini 12: ‘The End’ – EVA Mastered At Last!

Our 50-year retrospective on Project Gemini wraps up with a look at the final flight of the series, Gemini 12. Flown in November 1966 by Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin, the successful mission was highlighted by Aldrin’s 3 EVAs. The addition of handholds, foot restraints, and a dialing back of sheer physical demands allowed an EVA to go entirely according to plan for the first time. The evening concludes with a summary of the rapid progress in human spaceflight competency NASA made in this pivotal program en route to the Moon.

Fri, November 18 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Juno Progress Report

With Juno safely in orbit around Jupiter at press time, the mission will be roughly 20% through its active science portion by early December. It is also possible that all the images the mission is going to acquire will have been shot by this point, since the Junocam is not expected to last the entire mission due to the severe radiation environment. Come review early science and imaging results of this fascinating mission.

Fri, December 2 | 8pm | Planetarium

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A Winter’s Solstice

As we head into the holiday season, we’ll discuss the history of various ancient observances of the Winter Solstice, and how they have evolved and melded with our later Judeo-Christian holidays. People have long felt the need to face the coming of winter with festivities, and customs like the burning of the “Yule Log” and hanging of evergreens seem to far predate the celebration of Christmas in December! We’ll also have a look at a re-creation of a remarkable planetary conjunction in 2 BC—a leading candidate for a scientific explanation for the Star of Bethlehem.

Fri, December 9, 16 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Special Observing Event: A 9-Day-Old Moon and Winter Clusters!

Start your 2017 observing calendar with a look through a variety of telescopes at a 9-day-old waxing gibbous Moon. After a brief discussion in the planetarium, head outside to view the lunar Apennines and Alps, the Alpine Valley, and Rupes Recta, the “Straight Wall.” Also take a look at the entire beautiful jewel box of M45, the Pleiades star cluster, and other pretty winter star clusters. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!

Fri, January 6 | 8pm | Planetarium

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A Failure of Imagination – The Tragedy of Apollo 1

Just two months after the triumphant finale of the Gemini Project, the world was rocked by the loss of three astronauts on the ground. The inaugural crew of the Apollo program—Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee—died in a fire during a ground test of their spacecraft atop its Saturn IB booster. We will examine the accident and some of the surprising ways in which fixes that resulted from its investigation probably wound up saving at least one Apollo crew’s lives in space.

Fri, January 13 | 8pm | Planetarium

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rbirth in Orion’s Sword

Deep in the sword of Orion, visible to the unaided eye, is a massive complex of dust and gas, which we now know to be an active star formation region. We’ll explore this Great Orion Nebula with stunning images from ground and space telescopes, and discuss recent discoveries that reveal the hundreds of potential planetary systems forming within! Note that we have an observing session on January 27 targeting Orion!

Fri, January 20 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Special Observing Event: Orion, the Seven Sisters, and the Winter Hexagon!

Through a variety of telescopes, explore the winter sky and the bounty of bright stars surrounding its signature constellation, Orion the Hunter. Embedded in the Sword of Orion is the mighty Orion Nebula, the large area of star formation closest to the solar system. After a brief discussion in the planetarium, head outside to view the lovely Pleiades Cluster and its neighbors. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!

Fri, January 27 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Go at 



ttleup – The Loss of Challenger

Space flight is difficult and inherently risky, but the greatest dangers seem to originate not in the energies and velocities involved, but in the human factors and issues apparently endemic to large hierarchical organizations. This month marks the 31st anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and her seven-person crew. The institutional lessons of Challenger brought to light in the subsequent investigation seem to have been sadly forgotten, as similar organizational issues reared their heads again in February 2003 with the loss of the shuttle Columbia.

Fri, February 3 | 8pm | Planetarium​