Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in August with free, live virtual shows presented online at The special feature shows will highlight the Apollo mission, and present an update on NASA’s human spaceflight programs.

The evening shows are at 8 p.m. and are preceded by a streamlined, virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m., offering the latest news in astronomy and space exploration, and the chance to ask astronomy-related questions.

The planetarium is exploring a variety of ways to present its shows while the Santa Monica College (SMC) campuses are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the planetarium is using the Zoom platform. To attend the shows, the Zoom software version 5.0 or higher must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

The August shows are:

• Friday, August 7 — 50-Year Retrospective: The Flights of Apollo: “After Apollo 13 – What Changed?” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. After the return of Apollo 13 from its nearly-fatal mission, NASA faced the possibility of halting lunar missions if the causes and fixes for the actual accident were not quickly determined, with solutions put in place to give future missions greater safety margins. All this, at a time when NASA’s budget started to shrink, had far-reaching effects on the number and types of lunar missions NASA was ultimately able to fly as Apollo came to an end in late 1972.

• Friday, August 14 & 21 — “NASA Human Spaceflight Update” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. NASA had hoped to have flown crewed tests on both of the commercial crew vehicles for transport to the International Space Station by the date of this program, but has managed only one. The latest news will be discussed about the deep space Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle that is slowly moving toward test flight in 2021, human return to the vicinity of the Moon to assemble the Lunar Gateway, and other public and private efforts, some of which could potentially render some of NASA’s plans moot.

More information is available online at or by calling

310-434-3005. 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, SMC Public Information Officer