Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in April 2022 with free, live virtual shows presented online at smc.edu/planetarium. This month’s friendly presentations include a look at the science experiments aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the technology of Apollo vs today’s preparations for a return to the Moon, a look at Apollo 16 in the Cayley-Descartes highlands, and the latest developments in preparations for a second Starliner uncrewed test flight.

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. To attend the shows, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at zoom.com.

The April 2022 shows are:

• Friday, April 1, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “Science in Low Earth Orbit: A Look Inside the International Space Station” — Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent. Since 1998, International Space Station (ISS) has been an orbiting laboratory offering a unique opportunity to study plants, animals, and even humans in freefall. The show takes a look at the invaluable science experiments performed aboard the ISS.  Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, April 8, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “The Technology of Apollo vs Today” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. Apollo reached the Moon by pioneering new technology, refining or scaling up some old technology, and daring mighty risks. The show, which discusses how the technology of Apollo compares to that being prepared to return humans to the Moon in the near future, will break out various areas where the tech has leaped forward, as well as some where things really haven’t changed all that much…. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, April 15 & 22, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): 50-Year Retrospective: “The Flights of Apollo: Apollo 16 plus 50 Years: Surprise at Cayley-Descartes” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. Drescher Planetarium continues its 50-year retrospective series with a look back at the penultimate human lunar landing. As Apollo began to wind down in spring 1972, the second “J” class mission aimed for the highlands region of Cayley-Descartes, which lunar geologists assumed to be largely volcanic in origin. But when John Young, Charlie Duke, and Ken Mattingly took Casper and Orion to the Moon, what they found there was not what had been expected… Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, April 29, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): “Starliner Tries Again” — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. After a long gestation and a deeply troubled first test flight that missed many test objectives, Boeing should be readying a second uncrewed test flight of the Starliner commercial crew capsule. The show will review the Commercial Crew program — emphasizing the development history of this second of the two NASA Commercial Crew vehicles — and provide an update on flight plans. 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.

Submitted by Grace Smith