Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in December 2021 with free, live virtual shows presented online at The friendly presentations will offer updated details on Project Artemis and the effort to return to the Moon, the latest on the pre-launch preparations for the James Webb Space Telescope, and an illustrated explanation of the winter solstice.

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.

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

The December 2021 shows are:

• Friday, December 3, at 8 p.m. “Artemis 1 Preview” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. NASA’s Project Artemis has been rescheduled (again) to February 2022 to launch the SLS booster and Orion spacecraft on an uncrewed test flight into lunar orbit and back to Earth. Tonight’s show presents an update on the long-delayed first flight of the system to send humans back to the Moon — and beyond.

• Friday, December 10, at 8 p.m.“ James Webb Space Telescope Pre-Launch Updates” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. NASA and the European Space Agency hope to launch the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope on December 18. Show will review progress and status of that (possibly optimistic) launch date, take a look at Webb’s science objectives, and review the multi-week nail-biter that will be the remote deployment of this massive instrument, far from any possibility of human servicing. 

• Friday, December 17, at 8 p.m. “A Winter’s Solstice” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. Show examines the history of various ancient observances of the Winter Solstice and how they have evolved and melded with Judeo-Christian holidays, and takes a look at a remarkable planetary conjunction in 2 B.C., a leading candidate for a scientific explanation for the Star of Bethlehem. 

More information is available online at or by calling 

310-434-3005. All shows subject to change or cancellation without notice.

Submitted by: Grace Smith, SMC PIO