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'Faint Fuzzies' and Other Celestial Phenomena at Santa Monica College Planetarium Next Month
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By Lookout Staff

February 14, 2017 -- View the Apollo 11 moon landing site, glimpse comet-like "fuzzies" that don't move and learn about the science behind the equinoxes and solstices that have inspired religious festivals throughout the ages next month at the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium.

The shows, which take place on Fridays at 8 p.m. are preceded by “The Night Sky Show” at 7 p.m., which offers the latest news in astronomy and space exploration, a family-friendly “tour” of the constellations and the chance to ask astronomy-related questions.

The March series kicks off March 3 with a special observing event titled “Crescent Moon and Open Clusters,” which allows viewers to "take a look through a variety of telescopes," event organizer said.

The lenses will be focused on a "fat six-day-old crescent Moon and its Sea of Tranquility and the Apollo 11 landing site area at dawn," organizers said.

Viewers also can explore a "wealth of open clusters of youngish stars overhead, beginning with the ‘seven sisters’ in the Pleiades, then moving to the constellation Auriga."

The following Friday, March 10, the planetarium will present “Charles Messier and the Faint Fuzzies,” which offers a look at the French 18th-century comet hunter's list of the brightest objects in the northern sky.

An ambitious comet-hunter, Messier compiled a list of "faint fuzzy" objects that didn't move against the background stars of the constellations but that could be easily mistaken for comets. The charts he compiled is the reason an “M” is placed in front of numerical designations for many objects in the night sky.

In March and April, it is possible to view all 110 objects in the Messier catalog in a single night, a feat attempted by amateur astronomers during “Messier Marathons,” event organizers said.

On March 17, the planetarium presents “TILT! Equinoxes and Solstices Explained,” which uses a Digistar planetarium projector and other imagery to explain equinoxes and solstices.

The show will "try to remedy (the) disconnect from the natural world -- and dispel some myths, like that egg story," organizers said.

The series concludes on on March 24 and 31 with “The James Webb Telescope: NASA's Next Big Thing,” which offers the latest news about NASA’s successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the efforts "to keep the program moving toward a hoped-for 2018 launch."

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 www.smc.edu/planetarium.

All shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.


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