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 the Planetarium 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, December 2, 9, 16
Fri, January 6, 13, 20, 27
Fri, February 3
7pm | Planetarium
Feature Shows & Guest Lectures
Planetarium Feature Shows and Guest Lectures are presented at 8 p.m. on Fridays when the Nightly Show is scheduled. For further information, please call (310) 434-4767. Admission is $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under).
The Total Eclipse of August 21st, 2017
The first total solar eclipse to occur in the continental USA since 1979 is coming this summer! Making landfall on the Oregon coast, the path of totality curves over 14 states, transiting the entire breadth of the lower 48 before leaving us on the South Carolina coastline. While all of the lower 48 will experience a partial eclipse, a partial eclipse is in no way as spectacular as the magical strangeness of totality, with the solar corona plainly visible overhead. A total eclipse is one of those “Must See” experiences for anyone with even a passing interest in the natural world. We will review what an eclipse actually is, the path of the eclipse, and discuss viewing safety and weather conditions.
NOTE: "Juno Progress Report", originally scheduled for December 2nd, will be presented during the spring semester, due to the propulsion glitches which have delayed the intensive science phase of the mission.
Fri, December 2 | 8pm | 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, December 9, 16 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: A 9-Day-Old Moon and Winter Clusters!
Start your 2017 observing calendar with a look through a
variety of telescopes at a 9-day-old waxing gibbous Moon. After a brief
discussion in the planetarium, head outside to view the lunar Apennines and
Alps, the Alpine Valley, and Rupes Recta, the “Straight Wall.” Also take a look
at the entire beautiful jewel box of M45, the Pleiades star cluster, and other
pretty winter star clusters. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution
images in the planetarium. Dress
Fri, January 6 | 8pm | Planetarium
A Failure of Imagination – The Tragedy of Apollo 1
Just two months after the triumphant finale of the
Gemini Project, the world was rocked by the loss of three astronauts on the
ground. The inaugural crew of the Apollo program—Gus Grissom, Ed White, and
Roger Chaffee—died in a fire during a ground test of their spacecraft atop its
Saturn IB booster. We will examine the accident and some of the surprising ways
in which fixes that resulted from its investigation probably wound up saving at
least one Apollo crew’s lives in space.
Fri, January 13 | 8pm | Planetarium
irth 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! Note that we have
an observing session on January 27 targeting Orion!
Fri, January 20 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event: Orion, the Seven Sisters, and the Winter Hexagon!
Through a variety of telescopes, 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
large area of star formation closest to the solar system. After a brief
discussion in the planetarium, head outside to view the lovely Pleiades Cluster
and its neighbors. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution images in
the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Fri, January 27 | 8pm | Planetarium
Go at Throttle Up – The Loss of Challenger
Space flight is difficult and inherently risky, but the
greatest dangers seem to originate not in the energies and velocities involved,
but in the human factors and issues apparently endemic to large hierarchical
organizations. This month marks the 31st anniversary of the loss of the space
shuttle Challenger and her seven-person crew. The institutional lessons of
Challenger brought to light in the subsequent investigation seem to have been
sadly forgotten, as similar organizational issues reared their heads again in
February 2003 with the loss of the shuttle Columbia.
Fri, February 3 | 8pm | Planetarium