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 (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, April 24
Fri, May 1, 8, 15, 29
Fri, June 5, 12, 26
Fri, July 10, 17, 24, 31
Fri, August 7
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).
Special Observing Event:
Crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter!
With a fat crescent Moon hanging in the deep blue twilit sky, we’ll start with a look at brilliant Venus’ gibbous disk low in the west, and then the waxing crescent Moon, just a day prior to first quarter, when dramatic shadowing along the terminator makes it easy to see a variety of surface features. We’ll also look at Jupiter and its main equatorial cloud bands and four largest moons in our telescopes. 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, April 24 | 8pm | Planetarium
Dawn at Ceres: First Looks!
With NASA’s Dawn spacecraft due to enter orbit in March around dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt, we expect to have some early images of this intriguing member of the solar system by mid April. We’ll recap Dawn’s decade-long journey, and present the mission results so far.
Fri, May 1 | 8pm | Planetarium
Summer Star Party Planner
Gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky are called “star parties,” and summertime presents good opportunities for beginners to attend these events without having to deal with winter’s cold and travel hazards. From local urban and suburban locations to high, dark mountains and deserts, 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 attending a star party this summer hosted by your lecturer.
Fri, May 8 | 8pm | Planetarium
Guest Lecture: Shelley R. Bonus:
Are You Ready To Be a Space Tourist?
Modeled after the Cruise Ship Industry, the Space Tourism Industry is growing by trial and error, in leaps and bounds. Playboy is working with space architects to design a Playboy Space Hotel! For a mere $5,000, you can experience zero gravity on a Boeing 727. And Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two crashed in a test flight. Find out what’s next for Space Tourists who have already paid $250,000 to fly to the edge of space. Astronomy historian, performer, and writer Shelley Bonus—telescope operator at the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory 60-inch telescope—will prepare you to book your trip.…
Fri, May 15 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
Gibbous Moon – The Alpine Valley,
Sea of Rains, and Bay of Rainbows
Come enjoy some of the delights of the lunar nearside’s western portion. We’ll take a look at the Alpine Valley, a set of parallel fault lines that have subsided below the lunar Alps, which form part of the rim of Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rains. We’ll also look at a more recent impact event that took a 230-kilometer bite out of the northwestern rim of Imbrium, forming Sinus Iridum, the Bay of Rainbows. 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, May 29 | 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 5, 12 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
A Pretty Planetary Grouping, Moon, and Saturn!
Come take in an exceptionally lovely lineup of celestial objects marking the plane of our solar system across the sky. The bright planets Venus and Jupiter make a pretty pairing this week. A 10-day-old waxing gibbous Moon offers sights such as Rupes Recta (The Straight Wall) and morning light on Copernicus. And the solar system’s crown jewel—Saturn with its gorgeous rings—is the cherry atop this evening’s cosmic confections. 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, June 26 | 8pm | Planetarium
Reusable Rockets: A Progress Report
From the start of the Space Age, the one-shot nature of space boosters has been a major impediment to reducing the cost of space flight. Even the Space Shuttle, though reusable, proved hideously complex and required costly inspections and refurbishment between flights. Over the years, multiple public and private ventures have strived to crack this difficult problem. Come find out the latest news on the potentially revolutionary developments in the quest for reusable rockets.
Fri, July 10, 17 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
8-Day-Old Moon, The Straight Wall, and Saturn!
Take a look at an 8-day-old waxing gibbous Moon offering sights that include Rupes Recta (The Straight Wall), a sharply shadowed escarpment 70 miles long. Then enjoy a view of the solar system’s crown jewel, lovely Saturn and its rings. 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, July 24 | 8pm | Planetarium
The Meteors of Summer:
August’s Perseid Shower
The 2015 Perseid Meteor shower will occur on August 12-13. The annual display of spectacular streaks of light crossing the skies is the result of our planet moving through dust streams left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle. We’ll discuss the nature of these beautiful events, and provide advice for getting out to watch one of Nature’s silent spectacles. (Hint: You will need to leave city lights far behind, and plan to stay up late….)
Fri, July 31, August 7 | 8pm | Planetarium