Santa Monica Lookout
|The Moon, Stars and Equinoxes at Santa Monica College Planetarium this Month|
By Lookout Staff
August 28, 2015 -- How do you know when the moon is waxing or waning? How many times a year does an equinox take place? And what is the “Summer Triangle,” anyway?
If you want to explore these questions in depth, the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium will have the answers and more this month during its special Fall 2015 shows and telescope-viewing sessions.
The feature shows, which start at 8 p.m., 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,” planetarium officials said.
This month’s offerings kick off on Friday, September 11 with “Autumn Deep Sky Wonders and Star Party Planner” and an exploration of the “Summer Triangle,” an area “rich in star clusters, planetary nebulae, and a supernova remnant,” officials said.
Consisting of three bright stars, the “Summer Triangle” lights up the summer sky from dusk until dawn. The triangle was used as a navigating tool by Air Force aviators before GPS and is mentioned in a Chinese legend dating back to 600 B.C.
The show will offer tips on finding star parties to “view these beauties in the eyepiece” and “a stroll outside to view the Summer Triangle, pointed out in green laser beams.”
On Friday September 18, the planetarium will present “TILT! Equinoxes & Solstices Explained.” The Autumnal Equinox, which takes place September 23, is one of only two days in the year when daytime and night are of approximately equal duration.
An equinox takes place when the plane of the Earth’s Equator passes the center of the sun, which illuminates the northern and southern Hemisphere’s equally.
“Most of us are only vaguely aware of what the equinoxes and solstices really are,” planetarium officials said. “Come remedy this disconnect from the natural world, and find out what’s up with some related myths, like that egg story.”
On Friday, September 25, the planetarium will offer an up-close look at the moon when it presents “Special Observing Event: 12-Day-Old Moon, a Pretty Double Star, and the Ring Nebula!”
The presentation focus on the Moon’s Copernicus and Aristarchus craters and Schroter’s Valley, the Ring Nebula, and the double star Albireo, the “head” of Cygnus the Swan, according to officials.
“If clouds intervene, the program will stay in the planetarium with high-resolution images,” planetarium officials said.
The John Drescher Planetarium, features a Digistar projection system, is located on the main campus at 1900 Pico Boulevard on the second floor of Drescher Hall. Tickets are available at the door and cost $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under) for a single show or telescope-viewing session, or $11 ($9 seniors and children) for the evening’s scheduled “double bill.”
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