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Santa Monica College|Administration & College Governance|Marketing|Events|Planetarium Shows Lectures

Planetarium Shows Lectures

  Night Sky.jpeg 

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.

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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, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Fri, November 6, 13, 20

Fri, December 4, 11, 18

Fri, January 8, 15, 22, 29

Fri, February 5

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).


New Horizons at Pluto –First Summary From the Outer Darkness!

Come take a look at the results of humanity’s first close reconnaissance of mysterious Pluto and its moons. On July 14—nine years and three billion miles after its launch—the New Horizons spacecraft on its pioneering mission into the Kuiper Belt succeeded in waking up for its flyby of Pluto. The high-resolution images and science data packages have started arriving, and are already changing our perceptions.

Fri, October  9 | 8pm | Planetarium


Dawn Explores the Asteroid Belt

Now orbiting dwarf planet Ceres—the largest object in the main asteroid belt—the Dawn spacecraft is the first probe to orbit two large main belt asteroids. We’ll look back on this remarkable decade-long mission that used ion propulsion to achieve its impressive vantage points, and review what we have learned in the surveys of major asteroids Vesta and Ceres.

Fri, October 16, 30 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Special Observing Event: 11-Day-Old Moon, a Coathanger, and a Pretty Double Star!

Come take a look at the 11-day-old Moon and its terraced inner walls of Copernicus crater and the fault scarp Rupes Recta, the “Straight Wall.” In the Summer Triangle, take a look at Brocchi’s Cluster, also known as “The Coathanger,” and the multicolored double star Albireo, the “head” of Cygnus the Swan, almost directly overhead. We’ll begin in the planetarium, then head outside for viewing through telescopes with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!

Fri, October 23 | 8pm | 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 6, 13 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Special Observing Event: 9-Day-Old Moon, the Straight Wall, 

and Sunrise on Copernicus

View the Moon’s Rupes Recta—the “Straight Wall”—a slender black line made by shadow along the edge of a large fault scarp, then explore the rich detail along the “terminator,” the line between light and shadow, as sunrise advances across the lunar surface. Craters Copernicus and Tycho will be especially well lit. We’ll begin in the planetarium with a short primer on what to look for in the eyepiece, then head outside to observe through an array of telescopes, with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!

Fri, November 20 | 8pm | Planetarium


Gemini 7 and 6: When We Pulled Ahead in the Space Race – 50-year Retrospective

Half a century ago, a remarkable pair of manned space flights made it clear the United States was moving ahead in the superpower competition for supremacy in space exploration. We will examine the long-endurance flight of Gemini 7—which was punctuated by the twice-delayed launch of Gemini 6 and the world’s first space rendezvous—in historical context, with a personal perspective from our lecturer, who holds vivid memories of these heady days of the Space Race.

Fri, December 4, 11 | 8pm | Planetarium

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A Winter’s Solstice

As we head into the holiday season, we’ll discuss the history of 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 far predate the celebration of Christmas in December! We’ll also look at a re-creation of the remarkable planetary conjunction in 2 BCE, a leading candidate for a scientific explanation of the Star of Bethlehem.

Fri, December 18 | 8pm | Planetarium

 ​    Orion.jpg 

      Starbirth 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 29 targeting Orion!

Fri, January 8, 22 | 8pm | Planetarium​​


Special Observing Event: A Crescent Moon and Winter Constellations

Take a look at a waxing crescent Moon—where we’ll have good lighting on several big lunar craters and the Seas of Tranquility and Serenity—and enjoy some of the winter constellations. We’ll begin in the planetarium with a short primer on what to look for in the eyepiece, then head outside to observe through an array of telescopes, with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!

Fri, January 15 | 8pm | Planetarium


Special Observing Event: Orion, the Seven Sisters, and the Winter Hexagon!

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 closest large area of star formation to our solar system. Also take a look at the lovely Pleiades Cluster among the stars around Orion. We’ll begin in the planetarium with a short primer on what to look for in the eyepiece, then head outside to observe through an array of telescopes, with guidance from our planetarium director. Dress warmly!

Fri, January 29 | 8pm | Planetarium


Rosetta and Comet 67P

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has been a triumph—with the very first orbit and landing on a comet, plus extended observation of the comet’s pass through the inner solar system—and recent brief revivals after hibernation of the tiny Philae lander on the comet surface have raised new hopes for further surface science. Come review this mission in images and find out what we’ve learned about these icy emissaries from the outermost reaches of our solar system.

Fri, February 5 | 8pm | Planetarium​