Schedule

Friday Night Public Shows

NOTE:  First program (The Night Sky) begins at 7:00 PM

All programs subject to change in the event of emergency

 

Ticket prices:

Adult, per show = $6.00; "double feature" (both 7:00 & 8:00 shows) = $11.00
Children
(12 years or under) & Seniors (60 years or older) = $5.00 per show; "double feature" = $9.00

Note:  We LOVE small children - but children under 6 years normally do not make it through a complete indoor planetarium program without exceeding their attention spans.  For this reason, we recommend that children of this age be brought ONLY to the occasional 8:00 pm "Special Observing" events, which are more hands-on since we go outside to observe in telescopes.  If you bring very young children to other programs, they will be admitted free of charge - because 95% of the time I am forced to ask the parents to take them out of the planetarium when they begin to get restless and talkative.  Please consider this before bringing very young children to our regular shows.  We do happily arrange for preschool age group programs under the rules of our school shows.  When the entire group is of this age, the content is adjusted, and the other audience members are not expecting a quiet environment!   

Tickets may be purchased at the door on the evening of the show 1/2 hour prior to showtime, or in person at the SMC Theatre Arts Box Office (Theatre Arts Complex, SMC Main Campus; 8 a.m. to 12 noon Mon-Wed). 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). For the double-bill price of $11 ($9 seniors and children), you can enjoy both the Night Sky Show and the evening’s scheduled Feature Show or Guest Lecture.

 

For information, visit our website (www.smc.edu/planetarium) or call (310) 4343005.

 All shows are in the Planetarium, room 223 on the 2nd floor of Drescher Hall, unless otherwise indicated.

Parking is FREE all across campus, even in staff parking areas, on Friday nights while shows are being given.

For schedule information contact the Events Office at: (310) 434-3005 or email: events@smc.edu.

 

Drescher Planetarium Friday Night Public Shows - Fall/Winter 2013 - 2014

 

At 7:00 PM: The Night Sky Show


Presented on all dates listed below

This 50 minute presentation is an interactive weekly update on the night sky, with the latest news in space exploration and astronomy and a chance to ask any question about astronomy. We use our Digistar II planetarium projector to recreate the night sky with all of its celestial wonders.

At 8:00 PM – Feature Shows:

Note that all 8:00 PM feature programs are preceded by the 7:00 PM “Night Sky” program described above.

 

OurOur next public program will be on Friday, January 10th.

    Happy Holidays!**********************************************************************************************************

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!

Fri, January 10, 17 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Special Observing Event: Orion and the Winter Hexagon –  with Special Guest!

With the Moon’s glare absent these weeks, we’ll 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 the solar system. We’ll begin in the planetarium, then head outside for viewing through telescopes, thanks to amateur astronomer volunteers. And this year, we’ll have an additional bright target: Jupiter, with its cloud belts and bright moons, is moving through the Winter Hexagon. If clouds interfere, we’ll stay indoors and view spectacular images of the nebula, Jupiter, and surrounding skies. Dress warmly!

Fri, January 24 | 8pm | Planetarium

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Cataloguing the Sky

As astronomy moved into the telescopic era, the rapidly growing numbers of observable objects forced astronomers to organize the exploding trove of information into lists and catalogs, ever-growing and ever more specialized. The practice continues unabated to this day. We see object designations like M31, NGC 4565, and SAO 150058, and they seem like a foreign language, arcane and intimidating. But these designations are just tools, and with a little deciphering, you can quickly feel at home among them. We will trace the development of several of the best-known astronomical catalogs, and demystify their language.

Fri, January 31, February 21 | 8pm | Planetarium

Special Observing Event – First Quarter Moon and Jupiter in the eyepiece!

With a first quarter moon in the sky, we’ll start in the planetarium for a quick primer on our targets for the session, then head outside for viewing in a selection of telescopes.  On the Moon we’ll be highlighting the dramatic shadowing along the terminator, the transition from lunar night to day so prominent with the near side half illuminated.  Terraced craters and fault-wrinkled ancient basaltic lava will be clearly visible in the eyepiece. After examining our nearest celestial neighbor, we will look to the largest of all planets of the solar system, mighty Jupiter!  If the air is steady, we should be able to easily see the main equatorial cloud bands and the four largest moons of Jupiter in our telescopes.  If clouds intervene we will view images and discuss the Moon and Jupiter in the comfort of the planetarium.  DRESS WARMLY!  February 7th  

 

 

No Programs February 14th – Campus Closed

 

February 21st – Cataloguing the Sky – See above, January 31st listing 

 

The James Webb Space Telescope: NASA’s Next Big Thing

After years of delays and cost overruns, NASA’s scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is beginning to come together in laboratories and manufacturing facilities around the world.  With a price tag now projected to approach 9 billion dollars, JWST has profoundly impacted the space science budget process for nearly a decade, but survived every attempt to end the program.  We will take a close look at this program’s difficult gestation and the tradeoffs needed to keep it moving towards a hoped-for 2018 launch.  March 7th

 

 

Special Observing Event: Schroter’s Valley and a Jovian Shadow Dance!

We’ll do a twist on our usual lunar observing by looking at a waxing gibbous Moon, just a day before full, as we begin our observations after a quick briefing on our targets in the planetarium.  This phase gives good lighting to a long, winding lunar rille called Schroter’s Valley, an intriguing area of the Moon near the crater Aristarchus.  Once we’ve gotten our fill of the moon, we’ll swing to Jupiter, where shortly before 9:00 PM, for those who stay that long, the distinct black dot of the Jovian moon Io’s shadow will appear on the cloud tops.  These shadow transits are common, but many casual stargazers have never seen one.  If clouds intervene we’ll view images and discuss the Moon and Jupiter in the comfort of the planetarium.  DRESS WARMLY!  March 14th

 

 

 

Charles Messier and the Faint Fuzzies

18th century French comet hunter Charles Messier would probably be an obscure figure to modern astronomy enthusiasts had he not compiled a list of things he was not originally looking for.  In his small refractor telescopes there were lots of fuzzy comet-like objects that did not move against the star background as real comets do.  His nuisance list of these non-moving, faint, fuzzy objects became his chief historical claim to fame, for these are a fine list of the brightest galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae in the northern sky, and the reason you see “M” in front of the numerical designations for many beautiful objects in the night sky.   Some amateur astronomers even try “Messier Marathons” an attempt to view all 110 objects in the Messier catalog in a single dusk-to-dawn period. This is possible only in March and April, and we will view images of many of these objects and discuss them and their locations in more detail.   March 21st

 

 No public programs March 28th

 

Special Observing Event – A Crescent Moon and Jupiter in the eyepiece!

With a pretty crescent moon in the sky, we’ll start in the planetarium for a quick primer on our targets for the session, then head outside for viewing in a selection of telescopes. 

  On the Moon we’ll be highlighting the dramatic shadowing along the terminator, the transition from lunar night to day so prominent with the near about one quarter illuminated.  Terraced craters and fault-wrinkled ancient basaltic lava will be clearly visible in the eyepiece. After examining our nearest celestial neighbor, we will look to the largest of all planets of the solar system, mighty Jupiter!  If the air is steady, we should be able to easily see the main equatorial cloud bands and the four largest moons of Jupiter in our telescopes.  We might sneak a quick peek at Mars, rising in the east towards the end of our evening. If clouds intervene we will view images and discuss the Moon and Jupiter in the comfort of the planetarium.  DRESS WARMLY! April 4th

 

 

Chinese Space Exploration

With the Chinese space program methodically building from one accomplishment to the next, and the Chang e’ 3 lander’s rover Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) at the end of it’s baseline 3 month science mission, we’llook at the recent history and possible future of Chinese space exploration efforts.  A larger crewed space station and lunar sample return missions have already been announced as goals for the near future – what else might be in the offing?  April 11th and 25th

 

 

No public programs April 18th

 

 

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 public star party this summer hosted by your lecturer. May 2nd and 16th

 

 

 Special Observing Event – 10 Day Old Moon, tiny Mars, and maybe a peek at Saturn!

With twilight lingering as move into summer, we’ll begin with qa quick discussion in the planetarium concerning our targets, then head outside to first view the waxing gibbous Moon.  The prominent craters Copernicus and Tycho will be well lit, and most of great Mare Imbrium, the largest impact basin on the lunar near side and the Man in the Moon’s right eye, will be visible.  Nearby in the sky lies the tiny, dusty tan disk of Mars.  If the air is steady, we may glimpse the north polar cap of the somewhat Red Planet, and as a nightcap, for those who stay a bit past 9:00, we’ll chance a look low in the east at rising Saturn if the atmosphere cooperates.  If clouds intervene, we will view images of our intended targets indoofrs.  Dress warmly!  May 9th

 

 

No public programs May 23rd – Enjoy Memorial Day weekend!

 

 

Cassini’s Decade at Saturn

In 2004, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn and entered orbit around the ringed gem of the solar system after a trip that took seven years.  Now, as the mission winds down (and might even be on the budget chopping block though the spacecraft continues to function) we will review the remarkable discoveries and images produced in a decade at Saturn.  May 30th, June 13th

 

 

 

Special Observing Event – 8 Day Old Moon, a shadowed fault line, and the rings of Saturn!

We’ll wrap up our observing events for the spring semester with a look at the gibbous Moon and the rings of Saturn!  Starting in the planetarium as twilight slowly deepens, we will discuss and view images of our target areas, then head outside to view the Moon in the dark blue dusk sky, targeting Rupes Recta, the “Straight Wall”, a slender black line made by the shadowing along the edge of a large fault scarp.  As we move into full darkness, we’ll finish up with a view of Saturn and those magnificent rings – linger until a little before 9:00 and you should also be able to glimpse Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.  If clouds intervene we will view beautiful images of our targets in the planetarium.  Dress warmly!   June 6th

 

 

No Public Programs June 20th, June 27th, or July 4th

 

Summer D

 

Summer Deep Sky Wondersp Sky Wonders

The summer sky offers numerous gems to the observer, many of them far beyond our solar system – the realm of “Deep Sky Objects”, or DSOs.  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 and 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 and discuss what they seem to be telling us about our universe.  Tips for where to go to view these beauties for your self will round out the program.   July 11th and 18th

 

 

 

Mars Exploration Update

With two years elapsed from the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, we’ll view images from Gale crater and discuss results from the mission and also review the status and science of the other craft already in operation in Mars orbit or on the surface. Several new missions have been announced despite the relatively bleak budget outlook for planetary science, and the MAVEN orbiter is a month away from a planned entry into Mars orbit as of the show dates, so we’ll also look at the future of Mars exploration.   July 25th and August 1st

 

 

NASA Human Spaceflight

With the first un-crewed test flight of NASA’s Orion exploration spacecraft looming this Fall, and several pivotal demonstrations of capability by the competitors for the NASA commercial crew program for the International Space Station scheduled for the first half of 2014, we’ll take a look at where home-grown American human spaceflight stands.  August 8th and 15th

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