Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in August 2021 with free, live virtual shows presented online at smc.edu/planetarium. The friendly presentations will highlight the Perseid meteor shower and the best ways to view the “falling stars,” and offer an update on the James Webb Space Telescope as launch time approaches.

The planetarium will also present a free special Sunday Afternoon Matinee on August 8 at 2 p.m. The Sunday Afternoon Matinee combines an abbreviated version of “The Night Sky Show” and the week’s featured evening show, “The Meteors of Summer – The 2021 Perseids.”


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 questions related to astronomy and space exploration.

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 zoom.com.

The August 2021 shows are:
• Friday, August 6, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “The Meteors of Summer – The 2021 Perseids” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. On August 12, the annual Perseid meteor shower will peak at a time when moonlight is relatively absent and the sky fairly dark, prime conditions for viewing meteors. Show will discuss the spectacular sights in the sky and explore their amazing journey through space and time, touching upon their regularity and the reasons for it. Also covered will be the best ways to enjoy this summer sky show — no telescopes required, though a lounge chair is a plus. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Sunday, August 8, at 2 p.m.: Sunday Afternoon Matinee — “The Meteors of Summer – The 2021 Perseids” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. A shorter version of “The Night Sky Show” and the week’s feature show, “The Meteors of Summer – The 2021 Perseids,” which discusses the spectacular sights in the sky and explores their amazing journey through space and time, touching upon their regularity and the reasons for it. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, August 13 & 20, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “James Webb Space Telescope Preview” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. After years of delays and cost growth, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is targeting an October launch from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 booster contributed by the European Space Agency. The multibillion dollar Webb is often touted as the successor to the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, but there are significant differences between them, including mirror size. Show provides an update on progress toward launch day, and reviews the elaborate deployment steps that must happen to get useful results from the massive infrared instrument. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.


More information is available online at smc.edu/planetarium 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