Tickets may be purchased at the door on the evening of the show 1/2 hour prior to showtime. 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 $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under) and is presented on the following dates:
Fri, December 6, 13 Cancelled
Fri, January 10, 17, 24, 31
Fri, February 7
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) 434‑3005. Admission is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under).
A Winter’s Solstice
As we head into the holiday season, we’ll discuss the history of 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 far predate the celebration of Christmas in December! We’ll also look at a re-creation of the remarkable planetary conjunction in 2 BCE, a leading candidate for a scientific explanation of the Star of Bethlehem.
Fri, December 6, 13 | 8pm | Planetarium Cancelled
Starbirth 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!
Fri, January 10, 17 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
Orion and the Winter Hexagon –
with a Special Guest!
With the Moon’s glare absent these weeks, we’ll 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 closest large area of star formation to the solar system. We’ll begin in the planetarium, then head outside for viewing through telescopes, thanks to amateur astronomer volunteers. And this year, we’ll have an additional bright target: Jupiter, with its cloud belts and bright moons, is moving through the Winter Hexagon. If clouds interfere, we’ll stay indoors and view spectacular images of the nebula, Jupiter, and surrounding skies. Dress warmly!
Fri, January 24 | 8pm | Planetarium
Cataloguing The Sky
As astronomy moved into the telescopic era, the rapidly growing numbers of observable objects forced astronomers to organize the exploding trove of information into lists and catalogs, ever-growing and ever more specialized. The practice continues unabated to this day. We see object designations like M31, NGC 4565, and SAO 150058, and they seem like a foreign language, arcane and intimidating. But these designations are just tools, and with a little deciphering, you can quickly feel at home among them. We will trace the development of several of the best-known astronomical catalogs, and demystify their language.
Fri, January 31, February 7 | 8pm | Planetarium