The Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium will present special feature shows in May with tips on where to find star parties and how to be a welcome guest at them, a telescope viewing session with a focus on the Moon and a double star, and “Apollo 10: The Dress Rehearsal,” the next chapter in the ongoing 50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo series. The feature shows — as well as the planetarium’s popular Night Sky Show — will be held on Friday evenings.

The evening events 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 May events are:

  • May 3: “Summer Star Party Planner” — A practical guide to “star parties” (gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky) explains when to go, where to go — from local urban and suburban locations to high mountains and deserts — and what to bring to be a welcome star party visitor and participant.
  • May 10: Special Observing Event: “The Crescent Moon and a Famous Double Star” — An opportunity to view the Moon, the landing sites of the first and last Apollo landings, and its dramatically lit crater Theophilus – and gaze at the famous visual binary of Mizar and Alcor, the middle stars in the handle of the Big Dipper – through a variety of telescopes, with guidance from the planetarium’s director. If clouds intervene, the program will stay in the planetarium with high-resolution images.

May 17 and 31: 50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo: “Apollo 10 – The Dress Rehearsal” — Apollo 9’s successful tests in orbit led to practice operations that would take Commander Tom Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan to within 10 miles of the Moon’s surface, while Command Module Pilot John Young flew solo. A few harrowing moments at a critical point led to some salty language from Cernan on an open mic, an unintentional NASA “first.”

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

For information, please call (310) 434-3005 or see or All shows subject to change or cancellation without notice.

Submitted by Grace Smith, SMC Public Information Officer

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