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Santa Monica College|Academic Programs|Planetarium|public_shows

Friday Evening Public Shows
Show Times
  • At 7 PM - The Night Sky Show: this 50 minute presentation is an interactive weekly update on the night sky, with the latest news in space exploration and astronomy and a chance to ask any question about astronomy. We use our Digistar II planetarium projector to recreate the night sky with all of its celestial wonders!
  • At 8 PM – Feature Show: feature shows and guest lectures on a variety of astronomical topics. Special observing events in which opportunities are given to look through telescopes and other astronomical instruments are also offered from time to time.
Special Note: We LOVE small children - but children under 6 years normally do not make it through a complete indoor planetarium program without exceeding their attention spans.  For this reason, we recommend that children of this age be brought ONLY to the occasional 8:00 pm "Special Observing" events, which are more hands-on since we go outside to observe in telescopes.

If you bring very young children to other programs, they will be admitted free of charge - because 95% of the time I am forced to ask the parents to take them out of the planetarium when they begin to get restless and talkative.  Please consider this before bringing very young children to our regular shows.  We do happily arrange for preschool age group programs under the rules of our school shows.  When the entire group is of this age, the content is adjusted, and the other audience members are not expecting a quiet environment! 

Ticket Prices

Tickets may be purchased at the door on the evening of the show 1/2 hour prior to showtime, or in person at the SMC Theatre Arts Box Office (Theatre Arts Complex, SMC Main Campus; 8 a.m. to 12 noon Mon-Wed). Shows (except selected guest lectures) are held in the John Drescher Planetarium, located on SMC’s Main Campus in Drescher Hall Room 223. Click here for directions.

Admission to a single show or lecture is $6 ($5 for seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under). For the double-bill price of $11 ($9 seniors and children), you can enjoy both the Night Sky Show and the evening’s scheduled Feature Show or Guest Lecture.


Feature Show Schedule

Please Note: ALL 8:00 PM feature programs are preceded by the 7 PM “Night Sky” program described above. If you wish to see the constellations and sky motions, you want the 7:00 PM Night Sky show.  All programs are subject to change in the event of an emergency or other unforseen circumstances.

For more information contact the SMC Events Office at: (310) 434-3005 or email: events@smc.edu

Spring Session 2016

NOTE PROGRAM CHANGE: THE JUNE 17TH 8:00 PROGRAM HAS BEEN CHANGED TO THE GEMINI 9 PRESENTATION.


Gemini 9: Backup Crew, an Angry Alligator, and a Spacewalk Nightmare  JUNE 17TH

Our 50th anniversary series on the Gemini program continues with a look at the June 1966 flight of Gemini 9.  Flown by the backup crew of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan after the prime crew was lost in a jet crash, Gemini 9 seemed snake bitten at the time.  The planned docking with the Agena target vehicle was scrubbed along with the first launch attempt when the Agena did not make orbit.  A backup docking target wound up being unusable, and Gene Cernan’s spacewalk turned nasty, with the spacewalker exhausted, effectively blinded by a fogged visor, and barely able to fold himself back into the seated position required to close the Gemini hatch.  This was a closer call than NASA publicly admitted at the time, but many lessons were learned, directly benefiting the Apollo lunar program.




Summer Session 2016

Juno at Jupiter - JUNE 24TH

Launched in August of 2011, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive in Jupiter orbit on July 4th.  This first solar-powered Jupiter mission aims to map the gravitational field, magnetosphere, and internal structure of the massive gas giant planet, and will feature a crowd-sourced decision process on use of the imaging camera, a secondary payload aimed primarily at public outreach and education.  



Special Observing Event – Crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn!- JULY 8TH

After a quick discussion in the planetarium about our targets, we’ll head outside to telescopes to take in a beautiful dusk sky with the waxing crescent Mon near Jupiter in the western sky.  As twilight deepens, we’ll swing our telescopes east for a quick look at the tiny disk of Mars before checking out the evening’s showy finale, magnificent Saturn with those beautiful rings.  If clouds intervene, we’ll view images of our targets in the planetarium.  Dress warmly!   



The Grand Canyon Star Party – a Volunteer’s Report - JULY 15TH AND 22ND

One of the premier astronomy outreach events in the southwest is the annual Grand Canyon Star Party. Amateur astronomers from all over the USA volunteer to serve as Park Service outreach educators, bringing a wide variety of telescopes and personal styles to one of the most spectacular settings on Earth.  Simultaneous events are held on both the North and South Rims of the Canyon.  After getting hooked on the GCSP 20 years ago, SMC lecturer Jim Mahon has been back more than a dozen times.  He will present images and stories from the 2016 North Rim Party, and 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. 



Gemini 10: Reaching Higher _ JULY 29TH

Our 50th anniversary series on the Gemini program continues with a look at the July 1966 flight of Gemini 10.  Coming just 6 weeks after the delayed launch of Gemini 9, Gemini 10 saw the first use of the Agena’s engine to boost the docked spacecraft into much higher orbits.  The mission was commanded by John Young, who would go on to fly the first Space Shuttle mission in 1981, with pilot Mike Collins, who would serve as Command Module pilot of Apollo 11.  Gemini 10 set an altitude record of and showed that the spacewalk difficulties of on the previous flight had not been a fluke.  NASA  had work to do on suits and equipment before heading for the Moon…    



New Horizons at Pluto – One Year On - AUGUST 5TH AND 12TH

With a year elapsed since the climactic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, we should be roughly two-thirds of the way through the continuing download of the mountains of data and images collected during that frenetic encounter.  Why? The distance is so great and the power of the spacecraft’s transmitter so modest that the bandwidth is roughly 2 kb per second! Our cutting-edge explorer can thus only send results back at speeds comparable to an early dial-up internet connection!  We will survey the results published to date, which will include spectacular images from the encounter which transformed our conception of Pluto from a dot of light or pixelated smudge in an image to a newly-surveyed small world.

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