The Drescher Planetarium from SMC presents free, virtual live shows in December

Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday night events in December 2021 with free live virtual shows presented online at The friendly presentations provide updated details on Project Artemis and the effort to return to the moon, the latest information on preparations for the James Webb Space Telescope launch, and an illustrated explanation of the winter solstice.

The shows on Friday evening take place at 8:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m. they are accompanied by an optimized, virtual summary of the popular Night Sky Show with the latest news from astronomy and space exploration. The shows include the opportunity to chat and ask questions with the instructors at the planetarium.

Planetarium instructors are currently using the Zoom platform to host shows while the actual planetarium on campus will remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shows can be viewed at

The shows in December 2021 are:

• Friday, December 3rd, 8 pm “Artemis 1 Preview” – Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. NASA’s Artemis project was (again) postponed to February 2022 to launch the SLS booster and Orion spacecraft on an unmanned test flight into lunar orbit and back to Earth. Today’s show presents an update on the system’s long-delayed maiden flight to send people back to the moon – and beyond.

• Friday, December 10th at 8:00 pm “James Webb Space Telescope Pre-Launch Updates” – Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. NASA and the European Space Agency hope to launch the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope on December 18th. The show will review the progress and status of this (possibly optimistic) start date, take a look at Webb’s scientific goals, and the multi-week nail bite that will be the remote use of this massive instrument, far removed from any possibility of human operation.

• Friday, December 17th at 8:00 pm “A Winter Solstice” – Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. Show explores the history of various ancient observations of the winter solstice and how they evolved and merged with Judeo-Christian holidays, and takes a look at a notable planetary conjunction in 2 BCE. B.C., a leading candidate for a scientific explanation for the Star of Bethlehem.

Further information is available online at or by telephone

310-434-3005. All shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

Submitted by: Grace Smith, SMC PIO

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