We are now taking school show reservations!
Please Note: With ongoing construction on campus, parking can be challenging to find. Please carpool to minimize the number of vehicles, or better yet, take advantage of public transit options if possible. Please also note the minimum and maximum group sizes and fees below.
The planetarium is a unique tool for stimulating students and conveying the excitement of discovery. Santa Monica College's Planetarium has been serving Southern California for thirty years. We have experience with all age levels, from pre-school to senior citizens. Since our shows are presented live, we can tailor show content to fit any teacher's particular needs and specifications.
Our show begins by introducing children to the planetarium theater to help them feel at home. Our Digistar 2 projector, the first completely computerized planetarium in the L.A. area, recreates the starry sky as you would see it on a clear dark night. We transition to the simulated night sky after an initial powerpoint slide introduction, where we survey the solar system and discuss some current events in astronomy and space flight.
We discuss our place on the Earth, then show the sky as your class will see it that night so they learn how to find the constellations and planets from their own backyard. Motions of the sky are discussed, the North star is located, and bright visible planets will be pointed out. We look at constellation patterns on the dome, and discuss some of the stories told by these ancient connect-the-dots pictures. The Milky Way is located in the sky, and we relate the "neighborhood" we live in to the rest of our galaxy or "city of stars", the Milky Way, a vast spinning pinwheel of hundreds of billions of stars, as seen from well outside our galaxy. We might then tour the Solar System, viewing the planets and other bodies in motion around our Sun. We may travel deep into space to simulate a trip into a black hole, or experience the disorientation of a twisting ride on a mobius strip magically placed far out in deep space! Content is tailored to each audience as gauged by your lecturer during the program. Older students may be able to spend more time considering things like the curvature of space-time as visualized in Einstein's General Relativity theory; younger students may have more emphasis on the sheer beauty of our universe.
Finally, we return to Earth at the end of our tour, and consider that Earth is part of the enormous cosmos astronomy reveals to us.
The length and content of each show is scaled to the age/grade level of your group. Pre-school and kindergarten groups will have a show about 30 - 45 minutes long, and we ask that group size be limited to a maximum of 25 students at these early grade levels. Grades three and above will have a show about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes long. We always allow 10-15 minutes (at the teacher's discretion) after the show for the children to ask any questions they have about astronomy or space exploration - so third grade and above should plan for roughly 90 minutes in the planetarium if arriving on time.
Charges for School Shows ( Presented Tuesday through Thursday, start times either 10:00 or 11:30 am):
Groups of fewer than 20 (including adults): $100.00 NOTE: This is our minimum fee
Groups of 20+ (including adults): $5.00/person
School groups waiting to enter the planetarium should gather adjacent to the south side ground floor stairwell/elevator entrance to Drescher Hall, NOT on the second floor outside the planetarium entry door! Classes are being taught in adjacent classrooms and the inevitable noise is disruptive to SMC faculty. The same issue could arise if a classroom door is open to the outside on the ground floor, so please be mindful of surroundings and considerate of the other educators at work. Group leaders should make sure to exchange cell phone numbers with the planetarium lecturer at the time of reservation and coordinate via telephone. Bear in mind that we sometimes run two programs in a morning; if your program is an 11:30 start or later, you may be unable to reach the lecturer until the early program has concluded.
The maximum capacity of our planetarium theater is 50. Please limit your group size to this number - we cannot, by law, allow more than 50 inside the planetarium! We will be happy to arrange multiple shows if needed for larger groups.
Checks should be made payable to "Santa Monica College Events" and presented to your lecturer in the planetarium - please do not mail checks. Cash is also fine, but we cannot accept credit cards.
Please Note: Any school which cancels less than 24 hours before their scheduled show time is expected to pay a $60 late cancellation fee.
For information or reservations, please email the Planetarium Director, James Mahon at email@example.com.