Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium continues its Friday evening events in July 2022 with free, live virtual shows presented online at This month’s friendly presentations will cover new developments in ground-based telescopes, Gerard O’Neill’s space colony concepts, and icy moons.

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

The July 2022 shows are:

• Friday, July 8 & 15, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): The Next Generation of Ground-Based Telescopes — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon and Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent. A new wave of highly capable ground-based telescopes is approaching first light, led by the Vera Rubin Observatory, whose innovative wide-field survey telescope is expected to shed new light on dark matter this year. The Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope will follow in the near future. As these new instruments come online, they will have to contend with a sky increasingly cluttered by enormous constellations of small satellites, which could hamstring the scientific effectiveness of these magnificent machines. Free. Zoom at

• Friday, July 22, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): The Space Colony Concepts of Gerard O’Neill — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. In the years before the Space Shuttle era, there were diverse views on the future of humans in space. One of the most compelling in the mid 1970s was Gerard K. O’Neill’s vision of space colonies, including his imagined orbital colonies built from lunar materials and producing solar power satellites that would free Earth from dependence on fossil and nuclear energy by beaming power directly into Earth’s grid, and expanding humanity out into the solar system. Show will examine O’Neill’s optimistic vision in historical context, and with thought for today’s realities. Free. Zoom at

• Friday, July 29, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): The Lure of Icy Moons — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon and Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent. When contemplating interesting places in which to seek possible life in the solar system, thoughts of Mars quickly give way to a more exotic-seeming destination — the icy moons of outer planets like Jupiter and Saturn. The subsurface oceans that exist beneath those ice crusts seem to be rich in the chemical building blocks of life. Show will survey these tantalizing places and review what is known about their hidden oceans. 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