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New Wavelengths, Launching the Dragon and Space Weather at the SMC Planetarium

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By Lookout Staff

February 17, 2023 -- The Santa Monica College (SMC) John Drescher Planetarium will update two new space missions and take a focused look at Earth's "Evil Twin Sister" during a series of free live shows next month.

The shows -- most of which take place on Friday nights at 8 p.m., following The Night Sky Show at 7-- will also explore the effects on space weather on our daily lives and how scientists are capturing new wavelengths to learn about the cosmos.

On Friday March 3, the planetarium presents "The Polaris Dawn Mission" with Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon, who explores the series of private missions with SpaceX funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.

"The first, Polaris Dawn, is expected to launch in March 2023 with a four-person crew commanded by Isaacman on his second space flight," event organizers said.

The flight will reach "a record orbital altitude for the SpaceX Dragon, and an EVA (extravehicular activity) that will be another first for the Dragon and SpaceX pressure suit combination."

On Sunday March 5 at 11 a.m., the planetarium will present a matinee with “The Polaris Dawn Mission” and a 70-minute condensed version of “The Night Sky Show” presented by Lecturer Sarah Vincent.

Next months lineup continues on Friday, March 10 with "Artemis II – When Do We Leave –- and Who is Making the Trip?” -- a review the mission profile and likely launch time presented by Mahon.

"With the flight of Artemis I in December, NASA can expect an avalanche of questions about the first crewed Artemis flight" that will "loop around the Moon with four astronauts."

The mission is being billed as the Artemis generation’s “Apollo 8 moment.”

On Friday, March 17, Vincent presents "Space Weather –- What’s It Like Out There, and How Does It Affect Us?” -- which will "explain and expand awareness of this very real component of life as passengers on Spaceship Earth.

"Space weather is a real thing. And it has real effects on day-to-day lives on Earth, becoming more important as dependence on electronic devices has increased."

On March 24, the planetarium continues its series "Solar System Exploration Survey" that looks at missions to the members of our solar system.

The show, presented by Mahon. "takes a look at the often-challenging studies of Earth’s 'Evil Twin Sister' Venus, the second planet from the sun and Earth's closest planetary neighbor.

Next month's shows conclude with "Multi-Messenger Astronomy” that looks at how scientists are "using instruments that capture new wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum" to learn about the cosmos.

"Today, with gravity wave detection and directional detection of high-energy neutrino bursts — which can arrive ahead of more conventional electromagnetic wavelengths — the combined effect creates a fascinating synergy that opens a new era of true multi-messenger astronomy," organizers said.

To attend the shows --- which offer a chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions -- the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

More information is available online at or by calling 310-434-3005. Shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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