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From Mt. Wilson to SpaceX at the SMC Planetarium


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Santa Monica College
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Santa Monica, CA 90405
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By Lookout Staff

April 23, 2024 -- The Santa Monica College (SMC) Planetarium next month will focus close and far -- from a look at yesterday's ground-based observatories to an exploration of the outer reaches of the solar system.

During its Friday evening events, SMC's John Drescher Planetarium also will look at astrophotography and SpaceX competitors, and launch the new "Deep Sky Deep Dive" series.

The free, live virtual shows take place Fridays at 8 p.m. and 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, May 3, with “Great Ground-based Observatories” presented by planetarium lecturer Sarah Vincent.

The show "explores three pivotal, ground-based observatories of yesterday, today, and tomorrow," event organizers said.

"Mt. Wilson shaped modern cosmology, Keck Observatory searches for exoplanets, and Vera C. Rubin will search for dark matter."

The series continues May 10 with “Solar System Survey Part 9: Kuiper Belt and Beyond,” which takes a look at the solar system's "outer reaches -- the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud of icy debris."

On Friday, May 17, guest lecturer David Pinsky, an avid astrophotographer, presents “Astrophotography 101,” in which he "shares skills and tips for capturing breathtaking images of the night sky."

The following Friday, May 24, planetarium lecturer Jim Mahon presents “Competition for SpaceX,” a company founded by Elon Musk in 2002 that "has set the bar for relatively low-cost space flight."

The lecture will answer questions such as: "Can Boeing, ULA, and others catch up? Who are the new space race competitors?"

The May lineup concludes Friday, May 31, when Vincent presents the first show in the series "Deep Sky Deep Dive," which will explore the “Supernova."

"When Carl Sagan said, 'We are made of star-stuff,' he was not just waxing poetic; he was stating a fact," organizers said. The show "shines light on how stellar death became human life."

Planetarium lecturers are currently using the Zoom platform to present shows while SMC’s new planetarium and observatory are under construction.

To attend the virtual shows, 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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