Free, Live Virtual Shows from SMC’s Drescher Planetarium Look at China’s Space Program, the Peregrine Lunar Lander, & More in Feb.

Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in February 2023 with free, live virtual shows presented online at This month’s friendly presentations will offer an update on China’s space program and a look at the Peregrine Lunar Lander. This month also marks the launch of Solar System Exploration Survey, a new planetarium series about the missions to explore the members of the solar system.

The Friday evening shows are at 8 pm and are preceded by a streamlined virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 pm, offering the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions.

Planetarium lecturers are currently using the Zoom platform to present shows while the actual on-campus planetarium remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To attend the shows, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

The February 2023 shows are:

• Friday, February 3, at 8 pm (following The Night Sky Show at 7 pm): “China’s Space Program” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. China is expanding its Space Station and continuing a methodical program of lunar and planetary missions. Tonight’s show will review the recent history and probable near-term goals of the overall Chinese space effort. Free. Zoom at

• Friday, February 17, at 8 pm (following The Night Sky Show at 7 pm): “Peregrine: A New Lunar Lander from a New Program on a New Booster” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. Hoping to launch to the lunar surface on the inaugural flight of the new Vulcan booster in March 2023, the Astrobotics Peregrine 1 is the first of the lunar probes being flown under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, designed to prepare for human lunar return under NASA’s Artemis program. Tonight’s show takes a look at this and other CLPS missions to our nearest neighbor. Free. Zoom at

• Friday, February 24, at 8 pm (following The Night Sky Show at 7 pm): Solar System Exploration Survey: “Part 1: Mercury” — Lecturer Sarah Vincent. A look at the various studies of Mercury launches a new Drescher Planetarium series that reviews the past, current, and future exploration missions to the members of the solar system, and explores the evolving understanding of Earth’s neighborhood. Free. Zoom at

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

Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Submitted by Grace Smith

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