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 Night Sky or feature 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). Visit the Planetarium website for more information. 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., September 7, 14, 21, 28
Fri., October 5, 12, 19, 26
Fri., November 2, 9, 16, 30
Fri., December 7, 14
Fri., January 4, 11, 18, 25
Fri,. February 1
7 p.m. | Planetarium
Feature Shows & Guest Lectures
Planetarium Feature Shows and Guest Lectures are presented at 8 p.m. on Fridays when the Nightl Sky Show is scheduled. For further information, please call (310) 434-4767. Admission is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under).
50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo
Late 1968: Prelude to Tranquility
Working in a technological bubble within the political and social upheaval of America in late 1968, the personnel of the Apollo program stood poised to produce the visible string of missions that would culminate in the triumphant landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon the following summer. But 50 years ago, none of this seemed inevitable.
Fri., September 7, 28 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: Crescent Moon and Saturn!
We'll begin our Fall observing events with a look through various telescopes at a 5-day-old crescent Moon and the always amazing ringed wonders of Saturn. We will also give Mars — six weeks after its closest approach — a quick look, and check out a few other targets, depending on sky conditions. If clouds interfere, we'll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Fri., September 14 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
TILT! Equinoxes and Solstices Explained
As we move through the Autumnal Equinox on October 22, most of us are only vaguely aware of what the equinoxes and solstices actually are. Using our Digistar planetarium projector and other imagery, we'll try to remedy this disconnect from the natural world, which makes most modern humans vastly less aware of the rhythms of the sky than our ancestors were. We'll also try to dispel some myths, like that egg story….
Fri., September 21 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo
Apollo 7: The Moon Ship Takes Flight, Grumpily
In October 1968, the first manned Apollo mission left the launch pad. Wally Schirra, Walt Cunningham, and Donn Eisele put the Apollo Command and Service Module through its paces on a 10-day test flight in Earth orbit. The mission was the first American flight of a 3-person spacecraft and featured the first widely-seen live television from space, but all was not sweetness and light between the crew and mission control during this flight.
Fri., October 5, 19 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Guest Lecture: Shelley Bonus Water and Ice! Comets, Asteroids, Dwarf Planets, and Cryovulcanism, Oh My!
Guest Lecturer Shelley Bonus will cover our evolving understanding of the origin of water on our Earth, and the plentiful water in both liquid and ice form in and on other solar system bodies like moons, asteroids, comets, and dwarf planets (like Pluto), some of which have cryovolcanos.
Fri., October 12 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: A Gibbous Moon, the Ring Nebula, and a Pretty Double Star!
Gaze through a variety of telescopes at a fat 11-day old gibbous Moon and two of the delights of the early autumn sky! We will view the Moon, targeting the Copernicus crater and the Mare Imbrium, the biggest impact basin on the nearside. We'll also take a look at the Ring Nebula and the pretty multicolored double star Albireo, the "head" of Cygnus the Swan. If clouds interfere, we'll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Fri., October 26 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
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 2 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo, Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter – Scouting the Moon
As NASA prepared for the first lunar landings, it had a wealth of information from three robotic probe programs scarcely remembered today. The Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter programs helped answer NASA's basic questions, including whether the lunar dust would even be able to support the weight of a crewed spacecraft. Conducted in the competitive atmosphere of the space race with the Soviets, these programs came and went in a brief span of time, but hugely increased our knowledge of the Moon. Note: This feature show will be repeated in Spring 2019.
Fri., November 9 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: The Straight Wall on the Moon and the Seven Sisters
Take a look through various telescopes at a 9-day-old gibbous Moon and its fault scarp Rupes Recta, or the "Straight Wall," which will look like a sharp, dark crack. We'll also look at the eastern, terraced inner walls of Copernicus crater, then enjoy views of the beautiful Pleiades star cluster — the Seven Sisters of Greek lore — one of the prettiest open clusters in the sky and a harbinger of approaching winter. If clouds interfere, we'll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Fri., November 16 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
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., November 30 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo
Apollo 8 – Leaving the Cradle and "Saving 1968"
The Lunar Module (LM) was behind schedule and would not be ready for crewed flight for several months, but the end-of-the-decade deadline set by President Kennedy loomed. NASA decided to launch during the December 1968 window, which included the Christmas holiday, by sending a crew into lunar orbit without an LM. Fascinated, we watched as humans left our home planet, and viewed the Earth as a small sphere in the blackness of space for the first time.
Fri., December 7, 14 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Mars INSIGHT – First Looks
With a landing scheduled on November 26, 2018, INSIGHT should either be well into its surface operations, or we should have a good idea of what happened to prevent that happy outcome by the time this feature show is presented. We will review the latest images and information from INSIGHT as the first attempts are made to take the temperature and pulse of Mars, hopefully accompanied by interesting images of yet more new terrain on the red planet.
Fri., January 4, 11 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
NASA Commercial Crew – Are We There Yet?
After a challenging development phase that saw annual funding shortfalls, NASA's two Commercial Crew providers should have completed the early uncrewed test flights of the first U.S.-crewed spacecraft since the end of the Space Shuttle program by the date we present this feature show. Will either have flown with crew by this date? We shall see, and will update you on this crucial phase of regaining American human spaceflight capability as our reserved seats on Russian Soyuz flights run out.
Fri., January 18, 25 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: Orion, the Seven Sisters, and the Winter Hexagon!
With the Moon's glare absent, we'll explore the winter sky and the 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 also take a look at the lovely Pleiades Cluster. If clouds interfere, we'll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Fri., February 1 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium