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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, May 6, 13, 20

Fri, June 3, 17, 24

Fri, July 8, 15, 22, 29

Fri, August 5, 12

7pm | Planetarium​



Feature Shows & Guest Lectures  

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) 434-4767. Admission is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under).

   Solar System Exploration Update

New Mars missions planned by Europe, a failure-to-launch by NASA, the arrival of a new orbiter at Jupiter, and the launch of an asteroid sample return mission are just a few of the exploration highlights of 2016. We will present a broad survey of the current status of human exploration of the Solar System,
and venture a few speculations about the future.

Fri, April 22, 29 | 8pm | Planetarium


Guest Lecture: Shelley R. Bonus:

Jupiter Update

With Jupiter high in the early May sky, it’s a good time to consider the beauty, mysteries, and sheer scale of this magnificent planet, which has more mass than the total of everything else orbiting the Sun! With the Juno spacecraft on target for a July 4 arrival in Jovian orbit, guest lecturer Shelley Bonus will review what we do (and do not) know so far about the biggest world in the Solar System.

Fri, May 6 | 8pm | Planetarium

Shelly Bonus

Guest Lecture: Shelley R. Bonus:
Saturn, the Jewel of the Solar System

The first view of Saturn in a telescope eyepiece is one of the experiences that can hook a person on astronomy. We won’t be using telescopes this evening, but guest lecturer Shelley Bonus makes up for it with vivid words and images. As Shelley says, “The rings! The moons! The beauty!”

Fri, May 13 | 8pm | Planetarium


Summer Star Party Planner

Gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky are called “star parties,” and summer presents good opportunities for beginners to attend these events without having to deal with winter’s cold and travel hazards. We’ll clue you in on where and when to go, and what to bring to be a welcome star party visitor and participant. You will even have a chance to sign up for information about a star party this summer hosted by your lecturer.

Fri, May 20 | 8pm | Planetarium

Gemini 9

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

We continue our Project Gemini 50-year retrospective with a look at the flight of Gemini 9, flown in June 1966 by the backup crew of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan after the primary crew was lost in a jet crash. The mission’s difficulties included scrubbing the planned docking with the Agena target vehicle after launch problems, an unusable backup docking target, and an almost disastrous spacewalk by an exhausted Cernan. This was a closer call than NASA publicly admitted at the time, but many lessons were learned, directly benefiting the Apollo lunar program.

Fri, June 3 | 8pm | Planetarium

Summer Deep Sky Wonders

The wonders of the summer sky show us star birth and death, the raw material of planetary formation, mature stars in tight spheres of a million or more, younger stars in looser associations, and literally countless distant galaxies, each with billions of suns. We’ll look at beautiful images of some of the finest deep sky objects (DSOs), discuss what they seem to be telling us about our universe, and offer tips
on where to go to view these beauties.

Fri, June 17 | 8pm | Planetarium


Juno at Jupiter

NASA’s Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011, 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 crowdsourced decision process on use of the imaging camera, a secondary payload aimed primarily at public outreach and education.

Fri, June 24 | 8pm | Planetarium

Special Observing Event:
Crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn!

Take a look at the waxing crescent Moon near Jupiter in the western sky and, as twilight deepens, we’ll swing our telescopes eastward for a quick look at the tiny disk of Mars before checking out the evening’s showy finale, magnificent Saturn and its beautiful rings. We’ll begin in the planetarium, then head outside for viewing through telescopes with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!

Fri, July 8 | 8pm | Planetarium

The Grand Canyon Star Party (GCSP)
a Volunteer’s Report

One of the premier astronomy outreach events in the Southwest is the annual Grand Canyon Star Party, with simultaneous events held on the North and South Rims of the Canyon. 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. Planetarium director Jim Mahon, who has attended the GCSP more than a dozen times, 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.

Fri, July 15, 22 | 8pm | Planetarium

Gemini 10

Gemini 10: Reaching Higher

Our Project Gemini 50-year retrospective continues with a look at the July 1966 flight of Gemini 10, commanded by John Young, with pilot Mike Collins. Gemini 10—the first to use the Agena’s engine to boost the docked spacecraft into much higher orbits—set an altitude record and showed that spacewalk difficulties of the previous flight were not a fluke. NASA clearly had work to do on suits and equipment before heading for the Moon.

Fri, July 29 | 8pm | Planetarium

New Horizons at Pluto – One Year On

With a year elapsed since the dramatic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, we should be roughly two-thirds of the way through the continuing download of the vast amounts of data and images collected during that encounter. We will survey the results published to date, which will include spectacular images that transformed our concept of Pluto from a dot of light or pixelated smudge in
an image to a newly-surveyed small world.

Fri, August 5, 12 | 8pm | Planetarium