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The Moon, Deep Sky Wonders, More this Fall at SMC’s Drescher Planetarium:

The Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium is pleased to present its schedule of Fall 2015 shows and special telescope-viewing sessions, which begin on September 11.

The feature shows are at 8 p.m. and are preceded by “The Night Sky Show” at 7 p.m., offering the latest news in astronomy and space exploration, a family-friendly “tour” of the constellations, and the chance to ask astronomy-related questions.

The Fall 2015 lineup is:

• Sept. 11: “Autumn Deep Sky Wonders and Star Party Planner” – Explore the “Summer Triangle,” rich in star clusters, planetary nebulae, and a supernova remnant. Includes tips on finding star parties to view these beauties in the eyepiece – even if you don’t own a telescope – and a stroll outside to view the Summer Triangle, pointed out in green laser beams.

• Sept. 18: “TILT! Equinoxes & Solstices Explained” – As we move through the Autumnal Equinox and mark the beginning of Fall, most of us are only vaguely aware of what the equinoxes and solstices really are. Come remedy this disconnect from the natural world, and find out what’s up with some related myths, like that egg story….

• Sept. 25: “Special Observing Event: 12-Day-Old Moon, a Pretty Double Star, and the Ring Nebula!” – Take a look at the Moon’s Copernicus and Aristarchus craters and Schroter’s Valley, the Ring Nebula, and the double star Albireo, the “head” of Cygnus the Swan. If clouds intervene, the program will stay in the planetarium with high-resolution images.

• Oct. 2 & Oct. 9: “New Horizons at Pluto – First Summary From the Outer Darkness!” – Take a look at the results of humanity’s first close reconnaissance of mysterious Pluto and its moons. The high-resolution images and science data packages from the New Horizons spacecraft are already changing our perceptions.

• Oct. 16 & Oct. 30: “Dawn Explores the Asteroid Belt” – The Dawn spacecraft now orbiting dwarf planet Ceres is the first probe to orbit two large main belt asteroids. Find out about this remarkable decade-long mission and what we have learned about asteroids Vesta and Ceres.

• Oct. 23: “Special Observing Event: 11-Day-Old Moon, a Coathanger, and a Pretty Double Star!” – Check out the Moon’s Copernicus crater and Rupes Recta fault scarp, see Brocchi’s Cluster (‘The Coathanger’), and enjoy the multicolored double star Albireo. If clouds intervene, the program will stay in the planetarium with high-resolution images.

• Nov. 6 & Nov. 13: “Holiday Telescope Buyer Survival Guide” – Considering a telescope as a holiday gift for someone newly star-struck? Come find out how to shop for a telescope—and in time to do it BEFORE the good suppliers sell out of the best starter instruments!

• Nov. 20: “Special Observing Event: 9-Day-Old Moon, the Straight Wall, and Sunrise on Copernicus” – View the Moon’s Rupes Recta – the “Straight Wall” – as sunrise advances across the lunar surface, making craters Copernicus and Tycho especially well lit. If clouds intervene, the program will stay in the planetarium with high-resolution images.

• Dec. 4 & Dec. 11: “Gemini 7 and 6: When We Pulled Ahead in the Space Race – 50-Year Retrospective” – Examine the flight of Gemini 7 – punctuated by the launch of Gemini 6 and the first-ever space rendezvous – in historical context, with a personal perspective on these heady days of the Space Race from our lecturer.

• Dec. 18: “A Winter’s Solstice” – As we head into the holiday season, find out about the history of ancient observances of the Winter Solstice, and take a look at a re-creation of the remarkable planetary conjunction in 2 BCE – a leading candidate for a scientific explanation of the Star of Bethlehem.

The John Drescher Planetarium, which features a Digistar projection system, is located near the elevators on the second floor of Drescher Hall (1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica). Tickets are available at the door and cost $6 ($5 seniors age 60+ and children age 12 and under) for a single show or telescope-viewing session, or $11 ($9 seniors and children) for the evening’s scheduled “double bill.”

For information, call 310.434.3005 or see www.smc.edu/eventsinfo or www.smc.edu/planetarium. All shows subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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