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Santa Monica College Planetarium Features Solar Events
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

November 28, 2016 -- The sun will be at the center of feature shows at the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium in December.

On Friday, December 2, the planetarium will focus on the first total solar eclipse to occur in the continental United States since 1979, which will take place next August 21.

The show will review the characteristics of an eclipse, which takes place when the moon blocks the sun; trace its path and discuss viewing safety and weather conditions.

"With the solar corona plainly visible overhead, a total eclipse is one of those 'Must See' experiences," event organizers said.

The entire continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting between two and three hours, according to NASA. Those within a 60- to 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse halfway through the event.

"During those brief moments when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, day will turn into night, making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona," NASA officials said.

"Bright stars and planets will become visible as well," they said. "This is truly one of nature’s most awesome sights."

The show replaces “Juno Progress Report,” which has been postponed until Spring 2017 "due to propulsion-glitch delays in the intensive science phase of the mission," planetarium officials said.

On Friday December 9, the popular seasonal favorite “A Winter’s Solstice” will explore the history of ancient observances of the shortest day and the longest night of the year, when the sun's maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest.

Ancient cultures celebrated the reversal of the sun's ebbing presence in the sky as a sign of the sun gods' rebirth.

In northern Europe, the solstice was celebrated as a holiday called "Yule," which would take a more modern form in such popular traditions as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath and the Yule log.

The show also offers "a 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," organizers said.

The show, titled “The Total Eclipse of August 21, 2017,” will be repeated on Friday, December 16.

The feature shows are at 8 p.m. and are preceded by “The Night Sky Show” at 7 p.m., offering "the latest news in astronomy and space exploration, a family-friendly 'tour' of the constellations, and the chance to ask astronomy-related questions," officials said.

The John Drescher Planetarium, which features a Digistar projection system, is located near the elevators on the second floor of Drescher Hall, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

Tickets are available at the door and cost $11 ($9 seniors and children) for the evening’s scheduled “double bill," or $6 ($5 seniors age 60 and older and children age 12 and under) for a single show or telescope-viewing session.

For more information call (310) 434-3005 or visit All shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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