SMC’s Drescher Planetarium Presents Free Live Virtual Shows in December


The John Drescher Planetarium at Santa Monica College continues its Friday night events in December 2021 with free and live virtual shows presented online at The friendly presentations will offer up-to-date details on Project Artemis and efforts to return to the Moon, the latest information on pre-launch preparations for the James Webb Space Telescope, and an illustrated explanation of the Winter Solstice.

Friday night shows take place at 8 p.m. and are preceded by a simplified virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m., providing the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. Shows include the opportunity to chat with planetarium speakers and ask questions.

Planetarium speakers are currently using the Zoom platform to present shows while the campus planetarium remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shows can be viewed at

The shows for December 2021 are:

• Friday December 3 at 8 pm “Artemis 1 Preview” – Senior speaker Jim Mahon. NASA’s Artemis project has been postponed (again) to February 2022 to launch the SLS booster and Orion spacecraft on an unmanned test flight into lunar orbit and back to Earth. Tonight’s show features an update on the system’s long-delayed first flight to return humans to the Moon – and beyond.

• Friday, December 10, 8 pm “James Webb Space Telescope Pre-Launch Updates” – Keynote speaker Jim Mahon. NASA and the European Space Agency hope to launch the highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope on December 18. Show will review the progress and status of this (perhaps optimistic) launch date, review Webb’s science goals, and review the multi-week schedule. biting that will be the remote deployment of this massive instrument, far from any possibility of human maintenance.

• Friday, December 17, at 8 pm “A Winter Solstice” – Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. The show examines the history of various ancient winter solstice observances and how they evolved and merged with the Judeo-Christian holidays, and takes a look at a remarkable planetary conjunction in 2 BC, a prominent candidate for a scientific explanation of the Star of Bethlehem.

More information is available online at or by calling

310-434-3005. All shows can be changed or canceled without notice.

Submitted by: Grace Smith, SMC PIO


Arline J. Mercier