Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in June 2021 with free, live virtual shows presented online at The friendly presentations will cover the latest developments in Mars exploration, and introduce the works of astronomers Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, and Antonia Maury.

The Friday 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. The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and 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 June 2021 shows are:

• Friday, June 4 & 11, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “Mars Exploration Update” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. By early June, more than three months will have elapsed since the Mars arrivals of the UAE’s HOPE and China’s Tianwen 1 orbiters, and of NASA’s Perseverance rover. Show will review the preliminary science from the orbiters, the surface work from Perseverance, and how things have gone with Tianwen 1 sending its lander/rover to the surface in May. Whether everything worked perfectly or there have been glitches, there will be plenty of Martian exploration news to catch up on. Free. Zoom at

• Friday, June 18 & 25, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “Anonymous: Who Discovered That? (Or, Lifting the Draper)” — Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent. Show explores the works of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, and Antonia Maury. Not given due credit for their work during their lives, these astronomers are now being hailed as pivotal minds.
Free. Zoom at

More information is available online at or by calling 310-434-3005. All 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