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 www.smc.edu/planetarium 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, October 13, 20, 27
Fri, November 3, 17
Fri, December 1, 8, 15
Fri, January 5, 12, 19, 26
Fri, February 2
7 p.m. | 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).
Apollo 4: When the Power Met the Dream
Fri, October 20, November 3 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Fifty years ago, in November 1967, the Apollo program symbolically rose from the ashes with the first test launch of the enormous Saturn V booster. Even today, the sheer size and power of the Saturn V still staggers—twice the height of the Space Shuttle, and capable of hurling 50 tons of Apollo spacecraft to the Moon. This first unmanned test was covered live on American television, and we'll show some of the original coverage of this pivotal, triumphant day.
Special Observing Event: First Quarter Moon,
the Ring Nebula, and a Pretty Double Star!
Fri, October 27 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Take a look through various telescopes at the first quarter Moon and two of the delights of the early autumn sky! After a quick observer's primer in the planetarium, head outside to view the Moon and its Seas of Tranquility and Serenity, sites of the first and last human lunar landings to date. Then turn your gaze to the Ring Nebula, and finish up with a view of double star Albireo. If clouds interfere, we'll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Holiday Telescope Buyer Survival Guide
Fri, November 17 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
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!
Special Observing Event:
Schroter's Valley on the Moon and the Seven Sisters
Fri, December 1 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
After a quick observer's primer in the planetarium, head outside to take a look through various telescopes at a nearly-full Moon, the area around its bright crater Aristarchus, and the winding canyon known as "Schroter's Valley." Then turn your gaze to the beautiful Pleiades star cluster, the Seven Sisters of Greek lore, one of the prettiest open clusters in the sky, and a harbinger of approaching winter. If clouds interfere,
we'll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
A Winter's Solstice
Fri, December 8, 15 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
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.
NASA Commercial Crew Takes Flight
Fri, January 5, 26 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Come review and discuss the dawning of a new era in US spaceflight as NASA's two Commercial Crew providers—intended for initial use as crew "taxis" to the International Space Station, and to serve in lifeboat roles—are poised for the first test flights of the first US crewed spacecraft since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
Starbirth in Orion's Sword
Fri, January 12 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
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 19 targeting Orion!
Special Observing Event:
Orion, the Seven Sisters, and the Winter Hexagon!
Fri, January 19 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
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!
The TESS Mission: Exoplanet Targets for Webb
Fri, February 2 | 8 p.m. | Planetarium
Currently scheduled for a March 2018 launch, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will fly to a novel orbit in a 2:1 gravitational resonance with the Moon, and search the near-solar neighborhood of more than 200,000 stars for planets crossing between TESS and selected 'parent' stars. These stars will be closer and brighter than the ones the Kepler mission targeted in its exoplanet searches, making it possible to obtain more information on any planets discovered with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for a Fall 2018 launch. TESS aims to set the table!