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Skipping from Planet to Planet

By Lookout Staff

October 18, 2023 -- The Santa Monica College (SMC) Planetarium will continue its survey of the solar system next month with a look at the two biggest planets -- Jupiter and Saturn.

November's free virtual shows at the John Drescher Planetarium also include a look back at America’s First Space Station, which was launched 50 year's ago, event organizers said.

The shows, which take place on Fridays at 8 p.m., are preceded by a streamlined, virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m. that offers the latest news in astronomy and space exploration.

Next month's lineup kicks off Friday, November 3, with Part 6 of the planetarium's ongoing “Solar System Exploration Survey," which takes an in-depth look at Jupiter.

Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon will focus on the giant planet beyond Mars, starting with Galileo’s first fuzzy views of its major moons in 1610, organizers said.

The first planet to form and the largest in solar system, Jupiter is the third brightest object in the night sky and has been observed since prehistoric times.

The following week, on November 10, the focus turns to Saturn as Lecturer Sarah Vincent offers "an overview of our understanding of the ringed wonder of the solar system."

The second largest planet, Saturn, like Jupiter, is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, making it a "gas giant" commonly referred to as a "failed star."

The November line up concludes the Friday before Thanksgiving with Part 2 of a 50-year retrospective of Skylab presented by Mahon.

"In November 1973, the third and last Skylab crew launched for a 12-week stay aboard the space station at a time when little was known about long-term human stays in microgravity," event organizers said.

The show "traces the crew’s experiences with many of the now-familiar issues of long-duration space flight, and the potential for human space stations Skylab revealed."

Planetarium lecturers are currently using the Zoom platform to present shows. To attend, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

"The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions related to astronomy and space exploration," planetarium officials said.

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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